Believers Stand Firm by Putting On the Belt of Truth
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist … (Ephesians 6:14)
A Roman soldier wore a tunic under his armor, and a large leather belt “was used to gather his garments together as well as hold his sword.” The belt was the first part of the armor put on, and it held everything else together. It was crucial. Similarly, truth is a crucial component for every believer in this spiritual battle—without it believers are not prepared to stand and fight.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
Test all things; hold fast what is good.
As Christians, we are to test all things and then hold on only to that which is good—the truth—discarding all else. We are to be like the Bereans who “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). If we are not convinced that our principles and beliefs are without exception 100 percent true, how can we expect to accomplish anything with it?
Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.
A belt encompasses the waist. Does our conviction to the truth encompass us? As the above scripture notes, truth must be bound around us and written on our hearts—our conviction must reach beyond an outward show.
The belt used in Roman armor, provided a place for the soldier’s sword. Our sword—the sword of the Spirit—likewise needs a sheath. Truth is vital because, like a Roman soldier’s belt, it allows us to carry the sword of the Spirit and use it effectively.
What does the belt of truth represent?
how do we put it on, and
how does it protect us from the enemy?
1. The belt of truth represents knowing the content of truth as revealed in Scripture.
Jesus said this in John 17:17: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” The Word of God is truth, and it is through knowing and applying this truth that we are sanctified—daily made holy and righteous.
With that said, we can clearly discern Satan’s attacks during this age. We can see it in the post-modern concept of relativism.
We live in a system that is based on the lies of the devil, and if you don’t know the truth, you will fall into the temptation of the day.
But Satan is not just attacking the culture with relativism and other fashionable lies, he is also attacking the church—the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15)—and specifically, the Word of God.
With Eve in the Garden, he attacked God’s Word. “Did God really say?” he asked. In the Parable of the Sower, the devil removed the seed on the wayside before it could produce any fruit (Matt 13:4).
Our enemy always attacks the Word of God. In 1 Timothy 4:1, Paul talks about doctrines of demons that will lead some away from the faith. The enemy of our souls constantly assaults the church by twisting or denying Scripture—pulling many away from God.
It is increasingly common for people to call themselves Christians and yet not believe that the Bible is true and without error, even though Scripture refers to itself as true, perfect, inspired, and enduring (cf. John 17:17, Ps 19:7, 2 Tim 3:16, 1 Peter 1:23). Jesus says man shall not live by bread alone but by “every word” that comes from the mouth of God (Matt 4:4). He does not say “SOME” words, as many in the church today would teach, but “EVERY” word.
When believers accept the lie that not all Scripture is true, they are on a slippery slope. It is not too soon after that they throw out the virgin birth, the resurrection, the judgment, the miracles of Christ—soon leading them to discard the gospel and salvation altogether.
Saints, if you do not know the Word of God, you are not prepared to stand in this spiritual war. An ancient soldier couldn’t even fight without cinching his belt—all his clothing would have hindered him. And neither can we fight without knowing the truth. Ephesians 4:11-14 talks about God giving the church pastors and teachers so his children would no longer be tossed to and fro by every wind of teaching, and by deceitful men.
The enemy feasts on believers who don’t know the Word of God, but at the same time, he is defeated by those who do know it. Consider John’s description of spiritual young men in the church in 1 John 2:14. He says, “I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” Spiritual young men overcome the devil because the Word of God is strong in them. Therefore, they are conquering their lusts, confronting false teachings, and helping set others free.
It is no wonder that many of the great warriors in church history have been men and women of the Word of God. It was said of Martin Luther that he essentially memorized the entire Bible in Latin. John Wesley memorized almost the entire Greek New Testament.
If we are going to win this battle, we must know the great doctrines of the Word of God.
In considering this, I would especially recommend that young believers systematically study the major doctrines of Scripture. It is harder to understand Scripture verse by verse in a short time, but easier to understand it systematically.
Know what the Bible teaches on major doctrines so you won’t be led astray by all the false teachings circulating in the church.
How is the enemy attacking truth throughout the world and the church today?
How is God challenging you to hide God’s truth in your heart to better stand against the attacks?
2. The belt of truth represents living a life of honesty and integrity.
The belt of truth does not represent just knowing the content of the truth, but also living out the truth practically in our daily lives.
Ephesians 4:25-27 says:
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
Practicing falsehood and hypocrisy opens the door to the devil in our lives—it gives him a foothold.
Once a lie gets into the life of a believer, everything begins to fall apart.
For over a year, King David lied about his sin with Bathsheba, and nothing went right. When David repented, he wrote this (Psalm 32:2-5):
Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
While David was living a hypocritical, dishonest life, he lost the blessing of God. He experienced sickness, depression, and physical weakness until he confessed his sins. As he said in Psalm 51:6, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.”
Lies and deception open the door to the devil; therefore, we must put off falsehood and practice transparency before God and others as we confess our sins (cf. 1 John 1:9, James 5:16).
Satan likes to work in the shadows—he wants people to keep their sins in the dark instead of confessing them before God and man. It gives him a base from which to attack us. But the light of confession enables God to work in those dark places and set us free.
In what ways are you giving the enemy a foothold by practicing dishonesty?
Is it through cheating on tests, lying on taxes, or telling little fibs at work?
In what ways are you practicing transparency—confession before God and man—in order to close the door on the devil?
In order to put on the belt of truth, we must practice honesty and get rid of all deception in our lives.
In what ways have you seen or experienced dishonesty opening the door for Satan to attack a believer personally?
3. The belt of truth represents total commitment and zeal for Christ.
The metaphor of buckling or girding is often used in Scripture to describe the preparatory action of gathering one’s flowing garments in order to work, run a race, or fight a battle. Luke 12:35 says, “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning” (KJV). First Peter 1:13 says, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind” (KJV). These texts both refer metaphorically to the action of tightening one’s belt so as not to hinder action.
Since buckling or girding is often used to describe preparation
I believe that being girded … with truth primarily has to do with the self–discipline of total commitment. It is the committed Christian, just as it is the committed soldier and the committed athlete, who is prepared. Winning in war and in sports is often said to be the direct result of desire that leads to careful preparation and maximum effort.
It is the army or the team who wants most to win who is most likely to do so—even against great odds…
To be content with mediocrity, lethargy, indifference, and half–heartedness is to fail to be armored with the belt of God’s truth and to leave oneself exposed to Satan’s schemes.
Christ says that in order to follow him one must hate his father, mother, brothers, sisters, and even his own life (Lk 14:26). He requires total commitment—anything less is to not be his disciple. Everything that might hinder our walk with Christ must be removed. Uncommitted Christians are fodder for the enemy.
He uses them to scatter people from Christ instead of gathering people to Christ (Matt 12:30).
Is there anything in your life keeping you from being fully committed to Christ?
If so, how can you get on fire for God—totally committed to him?
Are you putting on the belt of truth?
Are you daily seeking to know the full counsel of Scripture, or are you neglecting God’s Word?
Are you practicing truth, or are you practicing hypocrisy and deception?
Are you fully committed to Christ, or are you half-hearted?
We must put on the belt of truth to stand against Satan’s attacks.
Which aspect of the belt of truth stood out most to you and why?
THE DANGERS OF NOT WEARING THE BELT
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
The world we live in teaches that truth is what we make it—that good and bad is relative and that there are no absolutes, only equally valid opinions. But the Bible teaches that truth is God’s Word—that good and bad are defined by Him and that there are eternal and unchangeable absolutes, uninfluenced by opinions.
Paul wrote to the Romans telling them to “not be conformed to this world.” Part of that means not buying into a system of belief that says absolute truth is a myth. As Christians, we know both that there is truth and that it is absolute.
2 Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Imagine a belt with a segment missing. No matter how tiny the sliver that isn’t there, the belt is still useless. To do its job, it must be one continuous, unbroken piece.
Now imagine living a way of life you don’t completely agree with.
To try to live God’s way without total belief in its validity is like trying to hold your sword up with a belt that isn’t continuous. Neither will work. Our trust in God and His Word must be solid, without break, or else we will quickly find ourselves without a weapon. No matter how effective the rest of our armor is, we are useless without our sword. We need to be rightly dividing the word of truth—knowing what we believe.
The over-arching principle in all of Satan’s attacks toward us is deception, when we are not wearing the belt it is easy for us to accept the lies of Satan. He is the father of lies and everything about lies belongs to him. John 8:44
Satan is the master illusionist, creating falsehood to replicate the original, so without truth we cannot recognize the truth about word of God. We cannot also uphold the truth in our daily life.
Satan can craftily make you think that God does not mean exactly what He says, we will doubt God’s word and will not believe the total word of God 2 Corinthians 11:14.
Without concrete allegiance to and affirmation with this truth – with real truth- you’re left weak and susceptible to things that may look right and sound right yet actually aren’t right. But with the standard of truth in place, you can adjust everything else in your life – your ambitions, choices, and feelings; your mind, will and emotions – until all of it is “tuned” correctly. When you have a strong, stable, well-supported core, you can’t easily be led astray but the enemy’s clever lies. Gird yourself with truth.
Without the belt of truth, you’re left with the burdensome responsibility of carrying the full weight of your own “Breastplate” – your own “righteousness.” Instead of God fulfilling your requirement for righteousness, you’re on the hook for it. Instead of God making you acceptable in His sight through the sacrifice of His Son, you’re responsible for somehow providing yourself spotless and prefect in His sight.
Freedom comes to us when we unapologetically follow the truth that we discover in Him and in His Word. Walking in it, abiding in it, ordering our steps and decisions according to it – that’s what makes the difference. That’s what disarms the enemy’s influence and his impact in our lives.
So how did the original readers of the letter (and the church today for that matter) view Paul’s analogy of the Belt of Truth? Remember that the Roman soldier’s belt had two main functions: to hold weapons, and to display status and affiliation. Why is it important to hang our weapons on truth? Since our sword is referred to as the word of God, how we use it is vital. It should only be used in truth. For example, many people teach that homosexuality is okay because God is love and therefore loves homosexuality. They re-translate the verses so that it makes it look like God is not against homosexuality at all. They may also claim that since God loves the homosexual, he approves of homosexuality. When a person uses the Bible to promote sin, it means that person is not wearing the belt of truth.
The belt was also used to display status and affiliation. Truth displays our affiliation with Christ. “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,” (Proverbs 12:22 NASB). “No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for the building up of someone in need, in order to give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29 HSCB). We must be careful when applying the Bible to both our lives and others, that we do it in truth. Truthfulness displays our status as Christians and our affiliation with Christ. Someone who has dedicated their life to Christ should not be walking around telling lies. Lies are of the devil and indicate a problem with the heart. Truth is of God and indicates a heart washed clean through salvation.
The belt is symbol of what truth is and what truth does. Not only does truth display our affiliation with Christ, but it also displays what Christ is doing in us. Jesus is truth (John 14:6), therefore we cannot really have truth (Christ) unless truth (Christ) has us. Truth is inseparably related to, and linked, with action. Our weapons hang from it. This makes them based in truth. Since it is wrapped around our waist, in encompasses our whole personality. It is important for Christians to be identified by a visible symbol that shows who they are, who they stand for, and who they represent.7 The exercise of truth is more than a matter of being honest, because integrity and trustworthiness are essential components of readiness for the struggle with the rulers, authorities, and powers of evil listed at the beginning of the passage.8 The belt of truth accomplishes this for us in a way that gives glory to God.
GPHI – FOUNTAIN OF HOPE INT. MINISTRIES
GADING NIAS KELAPA GADING 04/12/2019
TOPIC: BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Believers Stand Firm by Putting On the Breastplate of Righteousness
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, (Ephesians 6:14)
The Roman soldier wore a tough, sleeveless piece of armor that covered the whole torso, front and back, from neck to waist. It was often made of leather, metal, or chains. The primary purpose of the armor was “to protect the heart, lungs, intestines, and other vital organs.” 8
The apostle Paul makes another comparison between the Christian life and warfare in one of his letters to the Corinthians: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
The enemies of the Christian described in these verses are numerous, and could come at us unexpectedly. Paul lists “arguments,” “every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” and the need for “bringing every thought into captivity.” These are things we can encounter in everyday life. The breastplate of righteousness is one of our primary defenses against these unexpected and dangerous intrusions.
How important is the breastplate of righteousness? God promises great rewards to those who follow the path of righteousness: “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. The righteousness of the blameless will direct his way aright, but the wicked will fall by his own wickedness. The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the unfaithful will be caught by their lust” (Proverbs 11:4-6).
How do we put on this breastplate?
God’s commandments are righteousness (Psalm 119:172), and we can put on this breastplate by obeying God in our lives. How can we begin such a large task?
There is an ancient proverb that says the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. In a similar way, the journey to put on the breastplate of righteousness begins with a single choice. Life involves a series of choices; and we can work at this one day at a time, choosing, with God’s help, to make our next choice a righteous one.
Notice again Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 10:5: “Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
Every action begins with a thought, and our thoughts need to be brought in line with God’s words and commands. Correct (righteous) choices in life flow from a mind dwelling on God’s Word. The time to start this process is now!
1.The breastplate of righteousness represents recognition of the imputed righteousness of Christ.
As a Roman soldier’s breastplate reminded us of how a Christian needs righteousness as a defense of the heart and inner organs.
Example of Abraham
Abraham believed in God. What was God’s response to Abraham’s faith? Scripture says that righteousness was credited to his spiritual bank account (Genesis 15:5-6). Imputed righteousness puts us in right standing before God, allowing Him to come and live within us by His Spirit. Our right standing with God is not due to our efforts; it is given as a gift when we believe (Romans 4:1-8). That’s why we love Him so! God has been so generous and kind toward us in dealing with us in this way. God treats each of us as Christians in the same way He handled Abraham.
Abraham began with an unwavering belief (faith) that God would do what He said. But he didn’t stop at a simple belief. Abraham based his actions in life on that faith in God!
Hebrews 11 gives a further account of the relationship between Abraham’s faith and his actions: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise” (Hebrews 11:8-9).
Abraham backed up his faith with obedience to the commands he received from God.
The Lord imputes the righteousness of Christ to us
The good news contained in the part of the Word of God addressed to the believers after the day of Pentecost is that Jesus Christ met all the required conditions so that by confessing Him as Lord and by believing that God has raised Him from the dead you are righteous and saved. This is really good news, is not it? Ephesians tells us:
“For BY GRACE you are saved through faith: and this not from yourselves: it is the GIFT of God: Not by works, so that no-one can boast”
Also Romans 10:9-10
“That if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
And Acts 16:30-31
“Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Also: Romans 3:20-24, 28
“Therefore no-one will be declared righteous in his [God’s] sight by the works of the law; rather through the law we become conscious of sin. But now the righteousness of God, apart from the law has been made known, to which the law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. For there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus ……Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law”
The above passages state that our salvation and our right standing before God, i.e. our righteousness, are not based on how many good works we did, do or will do but on the grace of God. According to the above passages, even if you kept all the law you could not be righteous before God; for as we read: no-one can be righteous before God by the works of the law. And it also says that “all have sinned”. Even if you had never sinned in your life (which I’m sure it is not true) there is still Adam’s sin which passes down from generation to generation. But praise God, another way has been provided by which we can be righteous before Him. This way is called grace. Yes, someone had to work for all these gifts to be made freely available to us. However, this was neither you nor I but the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 3 tells us about the accomplishments of Jesus Christ:
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”
The redemption is IN CHRIST JESUS, not in what you and I achieved. This is very important if we want to understand the relationship we have with God. Our relationship is based upon the grace of God and the accomplishments of Jesus Christ, NOT upon our worth, works or achievements. We are righteous before God twenty four hours a day. The reason is that this right standing was given to us by grace. It was given to us as a result of the unmerited favor and love that God has for us. It is “righteousness of God”, NOT righteousness from ourselves i.e. self righteousness. This “of” denotes the source of this righteousness. This source is neither you nor I but God. Galatians 2:16 also tells us:
“know that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we too have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law no-one will be justified.”
Once more we see that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ! If it was by works, I could say: “Look I did more than you. I deserve it more than you.” No-one deserved something from God. It was God who, motivated by His love for us, sacrificed His Son so that by believing in Him we can be righteous and saved. That’s really grace! Amazing grace!
The Lord imputes the righteousness of Christ to us as a gift when we believe in the substitutionary work of Jesus on the cross. He died for you and as you. By this, I mean that He hung on the cross for your sins, bearing your sins in His body (1 Peter 2:24). When we believe God’s testimony about the finished work of His Son on the cross, He credits righteousness, i.e., the righteousness of Christ, to our spiritual bank account:
Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God” Essentially, Christ took our sin at the cross and gave us his righteousness. This is the very reason we can come into the presence of God and worship him. When he sees us, he sees the righteousness of Christ. This is probably symbolized in Zechariah 3:1-7, where Joshua, the high priest, comes into God’s presence wearing filthy clothes. Satan stands by Joshua’s side to accuse him—and no doubt to declare him unfit to be in God’s presence.
However, God rebukes Satan and places clean clothes on Joshua, which probably represents imputing to him the righteousness of Christ. The Angel of the Lord says, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he says to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you” (v.4).
It’s the same for us. Our clothes—representing our character and works—are unclean to God. Even our righteousness is like filthy rags to him (Is 64:6). Even our best works are full of bad intentions—to be known, exalted, etc. However, God rebukes the devil and gives us clean clothes—the righteousness of Christ. This is the only reason we can stand in the presence of God. Because the imputation of Christ’s righteousness happens at salvation.
Many believers, though they assent to salvation by grace, think it is their daily works that continue to justify them before God. When they fail to fully satisfy God’s righteous requirements, the enemy quickly comes to condemn them and pull them away from God. By not recognizing Christ’s work, they are agreeing with the devil. “I should not go to church; I should not read my Bible—that would be hypocritical.” They agree with the devil’s lies—opening the door for him into their hearts and minds.
However, we must not do that. We must continually declare the righteousness of Christ. “I am justified by grace—the unmerited favor of God—through Christ’s righteousness. I can do nothing to justify myself before God. Every day I must throw myself upon God’s gracious provisions. He provided the perfect Lamb that was slain so I could come into his presence.”
Are you still depending on the perfection of the Lamb? If not, you will accept the lies and condemnation of the devil and allow him to pull you away from God. We must daily recognize the perfect righteousness of Christ to put on the breastplate of righteousness.
When the enemy comes to you with accusations of what you have said and done wrong, we can reply that Jesus cried out from the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
The Greek word translated “finished” is an accounting term, which means paid in full. He has paid my debt of sin. There is nothing that can be done to add to the righteousness that Christ imparts to us upon believing. It is not ninety-five percent of Jesus’ work and five percent of our work. It is all of Jesus! Christ has fully paid the debt. The believer who knows what Christ has done for him can laugh at the enemy’s vain attempt at saying that the believer is not good enough. Christ is our righteousness.
- How does one recognize the difference between condemnation from the devil and conviction from the Holy Spirit?
- How can we practically apply the righteousness of Christ in our warfare?
2.The breastplate of righteousness represents our practical righteousness.
But the breastplate is not just imputed righteousness; it is also practical righteousness. When we are living a righteous life, we are protected from Satan. However, when we fall into sin, we give Satan an open door to attack and defeat us. Again, Ephesians 4:26-27 indicates this, as it says, “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant in Matthew 18 also represents this truth. In the parable, a master forgave a servant a great debt, but the servant did not forgive his fellow servant a much lesser debt. Because of this, the master handed the servant over to torturers. Matthew 18:32-35 shares the master’s judgment:
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
Obviously, the master reflects God and the servants reflect believers, but who are the torturers? No doubt, they are Satan and his demons. We see this throughout Scripture. When Saul was in unrepentant sin, who did God hand him over to? A tormenting spirit (1 Sam 16:14)! In the Corinthian church, when an unrepentant man was fornicating with his stepmother, who did Paul call for the church to hand him over to? Satan (1 Cor 5:5)! They would do this by putting him out of the church.
Sin opens the door for the devil into our lives. No doubt there are many Christians who, as a result of unrepentance, have psychological problems which are demonic in origin. There are Christians being tormented in their minds, bodies, emotions, work, and relationships because they have been handed over by God to the enemy until they repent.
Ephesians 2:2 says Satan works in those who are “disobedient”; however, a righteous life is a protection.
7But 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, purifies us from all sin. 8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7-9).
Living in God’s forgiveness calls for a life of vulnerability before God and others. The enemy’s darts of accusation and condemnation cannot lodge in the heart if one is living a life of obedience and right living before God and his or her brothers and sisters in Christ. However, when we sin, we need to be open and vulnerable to God about it and talk to Him about our sin. Ask Him for forgiveness, and if something was done to someone else, to get it right with that person. Sometimes, restitution is needed. If so, don’t delay in paying it.
Here is what James wrote concerning being vulnerable to other Christians:
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5:16).
As our Father, God will at times discipline His people. By His discipline, we see that we are His children (Hebrews 12:7-8).It will be more comfortable on us if we have a short account with God and we think of the day’s affairs before going to bed at night. Be sensitive to keep your heart clean before God by daily confession and repentance of sin. God’s power to say no to sin and temptation has been given to us when we believed and received the Spirit. We are empowered to live a righteous life because we have right standing with God.
Example of righteousness
It isn’t surprising that Abraham was listed in the Bible as an example of righteousness. His faith and willingness to obey God in whatever he was commanded are well documented. Let’s look at another man who was called righteous in the Bible—whose righteousness isn’t obvious at first glance. Let’s consider Abraham’s nephew Lot, who is listed as another righteous man.
Lot’s story is recorded in Genesis 19. He lived with his family in a city named Sodom—one of the cities later destroyed by God for the great wickedness that took place there. In the first part of the chapter, two angels (appearing in the form of men) came to visit Lot. He fed them and gave them a night’s lodging in his house (Genesis 19:1-3). When men of the city came to the house and demanded that he send the men out to them to be sexually abused, Lot actually offered to send his daughters out instead!
The angels struck the men of the city blind to protect Lot and told him he needed to take his family and flee the city immediately. Lot initially lingered, but when the angels took him by the hand and told him to flee without looking back, he did so (Genesis 19:4-16).
How is it that Lot came to be called a righteous man? Notice 2 Peter 2:6-7: “And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed with the filthy conduct of the wicked.”
Though Lot had his shortcomings and human failings (as we all do!), God considered him to be a righteous man. Verse 8 sheds a little more light on why he was righteous: “For that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds.”
Rather than adopting the sinful ways of those around him, Lot continued to obey God and was deeply disturbed by the lawlessness and sin going on around him. And when God commanded him to flee the city at a moment’s notice, leaving behind his life as he knew it, Lot did so without looking back. His obedience to God’s commands and his desire to follow God’s way of life made Lot a righteous man. And that “breastplate of righteousness” saved Lot from destruction!
- What doors are still open in your life for the enemy?
- In what ways is God calling you to turn away from sin so you can put on the breastplate of righteousness?
3.The breastplate of righteousness represents guarding our mind and emotions.
As mentioned, the Roman soldier’s breastplate was used to protect the vital organs such as the heart and intestines. In the Hebrew mindset, the heart represented the mind and will. The bowels, or intestines, represented emotions and feelings (cf. Col 3:12, KJV).9 Therefore, the breastplate probably represents guarding our mind and emotions. Solomon says, “Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.” (Prov 4:23, NIV 2011.)
Satan realizes that if he can get our minds and emotions, that will affect our worship and our obedience to God. That’s why he always works to implant wrong teachings and lies into our minds through books, music, TV, and conversation. Our minds affect our walk—how we live. But he also wants to get our emotions. Many Christians are emotionally all over the place, and part of that is a result of spiritual warfare. Satan stirs up people to criticize and condemn. He stirs up little romances with the opposite sex to distract us from focusing on God. He works to make believers worry and fret about the future so that they lose their joy. The enemy is cunning and keen. Therefore, we must guard our hearts above all else.
Believers guard their hearts by recognizing wrong thoughts and emotions, taking them captive, and making them obedient to Christ.
Second Corinthians 10:4-5 says,
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Here we see that a major part of our fight is recognizing wrong thoughts and emotions, taking them captive, and making them obedient to Christ. For example, Scripture teaches us to “be anxious for nothing” (Phil 4:6) and to “give thanks in all things” (1 Thess 5:18). When we are struggling with anxiety or complaining, our hearts and minds are not being obedient to Christ. We need to confront wrong thoughts and emotions with the truth, confess them to God, and submit them to Christ.
Are you taking your thoughts and emotions captive? Scripture calls us to control our emotions. God says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil 4:4.) I must choose to obey even when I don’t feel like it; I must bring my heart into submission to Christ.
Believers guard their hearts by filling their minds with Scripture.
Philippians 4:8-9 says this:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
If we fill our minds with truth and righteousness, then the devil will have less opportunity to tempt us. Every day we must fill our minds with truth by thinking on Scripture through our reading, worshiping, and even entertainment, if at all possible.
Are you putting on the breastplate of righteousness?
Are you recognizing Christ’s imputed righteousness, living a life, and guarding your heart and emotions? Without these practices, you are opening the door to the devil.
- Which aspect of the breastplate of righteousness stood out most to you and why?
- How can believers put on the breastplate of righteousness by guarding their hearts?
- In what ways does Satan commonly attack your mind and emotions? How do you take rogue thoughts and emotions captive and make them obedient to Christ?
SUMBER PENGHARAPAN INT. MINISTRIES GADING NIAS
STUDI ALKITAB 07/11/2019
ARMOUR OF GOD
There are eight weapons we must use in order to be victorious
- Helmet of Salvation
HELMET OF SALVATION
(Some places where Helmet was mentioned in the bible 1 Sam 17:5;1 Sam 17:38;Psa 60:7;Psa 108:8;Isa 59:17;Ezek 23:24;Ezek 27:10;Ezek 38:5;Ephes 6:17;1 Thess 5:8)
What purpose did the helmet serve in the Roman army?
The Roman helmet, like helmets today, protected the head from the attacks of the enemy. Salvation is generally used to refer to deliverance from the eternal death penalty of sin and deliverance into God’s Kingdom.
What is the penalty of our sins, and how can we be saved from that penalty?
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 5:8-10; John 3:16-17; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; Luke 1:77
Every human being has thought and acted in ways that are abominable to God. Our sins break God’s beautiful living laws designed for our good. Sin is so vile to God that it requires the death penalty. God’s justice requires that penalty. But God’s loving mercy provided the most incredible substitute. Jesus Christ, our Creator, was willing to die in our place! To be saved, we need a Savior.
How do we receive salvation?
Acts 2:38; Ephesians 2:8-9
It is important to understand that salvation cannot be earned. It is a gift from God and not something we can obtain through the right actions, thus obligating God to give it to us. Still, as we’ve seen in the scriptures covered so far, repentance (abhorring our sins and seeking God’s forgiveness and help to obey His laws), faith, accepting Christ’s sacrifice and coming to the knowledge of the truth are all steps in accepting the free gift. In no way do these efforts make up for our sins that caused the death of our Creator and Savior!
Is salvation a permanent, irrevocable gift, or does it have to be maintained?
The New Testament tells us that we “have been saved” (Ephesians 2:5), that we “are being saved” (1 Corinthians 1:18) and that we “will be saved” (Matthew 10:22). What does this mean for us?
Paul makes it clear that “have been saved” equates to the forgiveness of sins and coming under God’s grace. We have been taken off death row.
1 Corinthians 1:18
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Salvation can also describe the ongoing conversion process. Paul also calls this being “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). This involves having God’s laws written in our minds and meditating on them so we can better follow them (Hebrews 10:16; Psalm 119:97-99). As we saw in the lesson on the breastplate of righteousness, God expects us to obey His commandments.
And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
Our ultimate salvation depends on whether or not we choose to endure to the end.
What does salvation have to do with a helmet?
1 Thessalonians 5:8-11
We can receive tremendous hope and comfort by focusing on the incredible sacrifice Christ gave to save us and the amazing Kingdom that is the goal of our salvation. This hope works like a helmet to protect our minds from the discouragement and despair in this world.
I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
Christians have been called out of this world. Though we remain in it, we are not of it and remain separate from it.
Our way of living and even of thinking should differ from the world’s. We are to develop the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5), and as we have seen, that means having God’s laws written on our hearts and minds so we can remember to always obey God.1 Peter 5:8-9.
Our enemy hates that we have chosen this path and will stop at nothing to destroy us because of it. Just as the helmet protects the vital but vulnerable head from otherwise fatal blows, the hope of salvation can protect our thoughts from our enemy’s attacks and temptations to disobey God. Matthew 13:22
Without the helmet of salvation, we will be unprotected from the “cares of this world” that bombard our thoughts and feelings. Imagine not knowing what the future ultimately holds. The worries and problems produced by living in this world would overwhelm us! Psalm 27:1
With the helmet securely fastened, we can have the same confidence that Paul did that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). We understand that it doesn’t matter what happens to us now. No matter what trials we face, we know that at the end of it all waits God’s Kingdom and an eternity of His perfect reign—and what could be better than that?
How do I keep the helmet secure?
Remember that salvation comes from God, and that God is on our side. If we commit to fully follow and obey Him, it is impossible for us to lose our battle or our salvation.
This is the salvation we are fighting for—to enter this glorious Kingdom! Never lose sight of this. This coming Kingdom, with its worldwide peace and prosperity, makes every price in this life worth paying. No matter what comes, no matter how vicious the attacks our enemy lands on us, we know that as long as we remain with God, we are moving slowly but unstoppably toward an eternal victory. What wouldn’t we give for that? 2 Timothy 4:6-8
Paul had the vision. He valued his salvation highly and diligently fought the good fight. As the end of his life drew near, he was able to say with complete confidence that he would receive the crown.
When Paul awakes in the first resurrection, he will trade in his soldier’s helmet for a far more glorious, imperishable and eternal crown of righteousness—the crown of a victorious soldier of Christ. We, too, can be assured of victory so long as we—like Paul—faithfully follow our God and His commandments from our heart and mind.
Assurance of Salvation
Believers must use the tests in Scripture to confirm their salvation.
Several portions of Scripture are written specifically for this purpose. The primary text is the book of 1 John. John says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). In the book, he gives a series of tests so we can know that we have eternal life.
Application Question: What are some of these tests?
1. The test of obedience.
First John 2:3-5 says,
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:
Faithful obedience to God and his Word is a proof of true salvation.
Christ says, “If you abide in my words, then you are truly my disciples” (John 8:31, ESV). If we don’t love his Word and continually follow it, we have no reason to call ourselves Christians in the first
2. Are you abiding in his Word?
The test of love for Christians.
First John 3:14-15 says,
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.Similarly, Jesus says, “They will know you are my disciples by the way you love one another” (John 13:35). If we are lacking a supernatural love for other believers, then we are not his disciples. At spiritual birth, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit
I really struggle when I meet people who profess Christ but say they don’t need to attend church. If they are true Christians, they will want to attend church. Why? Not just out of love for God, but also out of love for other believers. They will want to be with believers and use their gifts to build them up. They will want to pray with them and serve them. This is a natural fruit of love. If a person doesn’t even want to be around the church, then they don’t love the believers and surely they are not saved
3. Do you love your brothers?
The test of doctrine.
First John 4:15 says, “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.” This is a proper acknowledgment of Christ’s humanity and deity. (The name “Jesus” represents his humanity and “Son of God” represents his deity). This is what keeps many cult members out of heaven—they have bad Christology. To them, Christ was either not a man or not God. He was an angel or something else. In the above statement John was refuting the doctrine of the Gnostic cult, which was attacking the Ephesian church. It’s also a problem in many cults today and for many professing “Christians.” They believe Christ was a good man and a good religious teacher, but not the Son of God
4. Do you pass the doctrinal test?
The test of not loving the World.
First John 2:15 says,
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” True believers are different from the world and the culture around them. Where the rich man was not willing to leave his riches to follow Christ (Matt 19:16-22), the true believer is willing to leave the praise, adoration and riches of this world for the kingdom of God (cf. Lk 14:26-27). It is sobering to consider that the rich man was highly spiritual. We know he appeared righteous because he kept the law; he also desired eternal life. Since we can’t see the heart, we would have quickly taught him the Four Spiritual Laws, then had him say the Sinner’s Prayer and join the church. Because he was an upright person and a successful businessman, he would soon have been an elder in most churches. However, he had never been born again. He was living for the riches of the world and not for God. Many professed believers are kept out of the kingdom because they don’t truly love God. They love him only for what they can get. They want the riches of this world—health and wealth—but they don’t want a Lord and they don’t want a cross. Sadly, this might be the majority of “Christians,” especially because of the widespread influence of the prosperity gospel. Are you willing to reject the world and the things of the world to follow Christ? Or—like the rich man—do you want both salvation and the things of this world?
5. The test of decreasing sin.
First John 3:6,9 says,
No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him… No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. John says “no one who lives in him keeps on sinning.” This was the professing Christians’ problem in Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus said to them, “Depart from me, you workers of iniquity. I never knew you.” They professed Christ, but lived a life of sin. True salvation always changes the lifestyle of believers (2 Cor 5:17). They still sin, but the direction and pattern of their lives will be different. They will practice living for God and yet stumble—sometimes repeatedly. However, the direction of their lives will have changed—they will be trying to serve and honor God. Is there a pattern of decreasing sin in your life? Or do you profess Christ, but not live for him?
6. The test of persecution for righteousness.
First John 3:12-13 says,
Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. Because of their changed lives and values, believers will often be hated and persecuted by society. Jesus gives persecution as a test of salvation. In Matthew 5:10, he says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He essentially says that those who are persecuted for their faith are part of the kingdom of heaven. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we will all be beaten, stoned, or jailed. Persecution often shows up in more subtle ways, like verbal abuse or being considered strange. First Peter 4:3-4 says, For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. Do others find you strange because you don’t get drunk like everybody else? Do people find you strange because you have chosen to practice chastity until marriage? This is normal for a Christian. You will receive some type of persecution from the world.
7. The test of perseverance.
First John 2:19 says, “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” In talking about those leaving the Ephesian church to join the Gnostic cult, John says that they left because they were never truly saved. This is the final truth that we will consider. Those who are truly born again will continue to walk with Christ and will never ultimately turn their backs on him (cf. Matt 24:13). The test of continuity of faith Similarly, Paul says this in Colossians 1:22-23: But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel… Our reconciliation to God is proved by a faith that endures and continues in the hope of the gospel.
Taking the helmet
A soldier going into battle without a helmet would have instantly exposed himself to the deadliest of blows. Leaving off any piece of the armor would have been dangerous, but to go without the helmet would have been unthinkable. We can no more afford to be without the helmet of salvation today.
The apostle Paul set an example of pressing forward with his eyes on the goal at all times, and he urged the brethren of the church at Philippi to do the same: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind” (Philippians 3:12-15)
Philippians 2:12 says to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” We are each individually responsible for whether or not we choose to accept the invitation into God’s Kingdom and then to stay on the path of obedience with His help. A good checklist for progress is Paul’s description of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
- How well am I expressing godly love? (See 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.)
- Is my outlook on life characterized by joy or pessimism?
- Am I a peacemaker or a troublemaker?
- Am I patient—even in stressful situations?
- Do I express kindness to others through willing acts of service?
- What kind of media do I allow into my life?
- Does the entertainment I enjoy live up to God’s standards?
- Do I stick with my commitments, even when they become difficult to keep?
- Is my approach to settling disagreements to verbally assault the other person, or do I handle things gently and with respect?
- Am I able to put what needs to be done before what I want to do?
What areas did you find yourself strongest in? In what areas are you weakest? How can you improve? Take time to research your weakest trait and design a plan for self-improvement in that area. Don’t overlook prayer as the most important step!
Hebrews 6: 1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on for perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (KJV)
THERE 2 TYPES OF PEOPLE WHO FACE JUDGEMENT.
1. Judgement of unbelievers/ the goats
The great white throne of God – The Greek word “Thronos”
Rev 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. (12) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (13) And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (14) And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. (15) And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
In v11 above, the great white throne is the Thronos, where those that are “dead” already are judged – (12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne). These people are judged for their rejection of Jesus Christ once and for all, according to the Book of Life on Judgement Day. Remember the teaching on Repentance from dead works – unbelievers are dead, because they don’t have Christ, who is the only One able to give life – I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE!
Matthew 12:36 but I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.
Hebrews 4:13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Isaiah 66: 22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD. 24 “And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”
2. Judgement of believers/ the sheep
1 Pet. 4: 17For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
The Judgement seat of Christ – The Greek word “Béma” (pronounced Bay-ma)
2 Cor. 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
Romans 14: 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: ”‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’” 12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
We can categorize the Judgement of believers into 3 types:
1. The First Judgment is Past. Our justification or our Judgment as a Sinner:
When we accept the finished work of Christ as an atonement for our sins, we can never again come into judgement as a sinner.
John 5: 24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
Romans 8: Paul adds, “There is therefore no more condemnation (judgment) to them which are in Christ Jesus.”
You see, the purpose of the Judgment Seat is not to determine whether a particular person enters heaven or not, for every man’s destiny is determined before he leaves this life. The purpose of this Béma judgment is not to punish believers for sins they have committed either before or after their salvation.
1 John 1: 7 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, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
When we confess our sins, God cleanses us thoroughly and completely for “the blood of Jesus Christ purifies us from all sin.” The Lord removes our sin completely and permanently, not partially.
Psalm 103: 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
(Also Isa 38:17 Micah 7:19)
2. The Second Judgment is Present,
Part of our sanctification,
our Judgment as Sons:
Heb 12: 4-10
The Dead Shall Hear the Voice of Jesus…and Live!” John 5:25-29
1 Cor 11: 32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
I Peter 4:17.
Most people regard judgment as something that occurs only at the end of the age. However, the Bible shows that Christians are being judged today. As in human courts, judgment is a process. Judges do not render decisions without getting the facts and pondering all the evidence. Today, God is putting Christians through trials and tests to see if they will be faithful to Him and His way of life.
On Judgment Day, all sinners will stand before God, and their deeds will be judged by His word (John 12:44-50, Hebrews 6:10, 2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 6:3). The righteous will not have to give account with the sinners on Judgment Day because they are judged as they live (1 Peter 4:17-18). The penalty (or “wages”) for sin will be pronounced upon all sinners (Romans 6:23, Revelations 20:11-15). Judgment is final: there is no appeal or repentance afterwards (Ecclesiastes 8:5-8).
Every day that we live, we are establishing our own judgment. How we treat and judge others is how we will be judged and rewarded on Judgment Day (Matthew 7:1-5). The term “saved” refers to the fact that we are all sinners and, therefore, destined to the Lake of Fire; but, because we have received grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), we are given eternal life in Heaven. By our repentance and obedience to baptism, we were granted God’s gift of salvation (Acts 22:16). We are in a saved state, but we can give up our status if we choose to live contrary to God’s word (Ezekiel 33:7-20). Baptism is only a part of salvation. A person must continue to abide in Christ (Mark 13:13, John 15:6-10).
3. The Third Judgment is Future – our redemption, our Judgment as a Servant.
Now it’s this judgment that takes place at the Judgment Seat – the Béma Seat of Christ. Paul says, as we have read in 2 Cor. 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
Who is Paul talking to? 2 Cor is addressed to “the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints which are in all Achaia.”
Now understand, this is not a warning to the unsaved, this is a word addressed to believers. The “we” in 2 Cor Ch 5 appears no less than 25 times, and it is clear that it is being addressed to the church, to believers.
This judgment is for Christians, but it cannot and doesn’t deal with sin or salvation. The Béma is not a judicial bench were someone is condemned, it is a reward seat. It has nothing to do with the Christians Rejection, but everything to do with the believers Reward.
1 Cor 3:10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
Paul teaches here that at the Judgment Seat our Service will be revealed and rewarded. The loss we can suffer is a loss of rewards in heaven, not a loss of Salvation.
Rev. 22: 12And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Who was Christ talking to? 1The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass;
Again He is talking to believers, His servants. Christ comes to fetch us, to separate us from the goats, to take us to His Judgement seat, where we will be rewarded with our inheritance, which is eternal life – in the presence of God! To understand what that might be like, we have to look at the experiences of those who have seen God, albeit in a vision.
Isaiah 6: 5Then said I, Woe is me! for I am ruined; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
The Glory of God is something quite unbelievable…
1 Cor. 3: 8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds.
Our works CANNOT save us. Only belief and faith can. Does that mean our works are not important? Not at all. Our works on this earth will determine our rewards in the life hereafter.
The principles of Judgement
Gal. 6: 7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.
Eph. 6: 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
Col. 3: 23And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, unto the Lord, and not unto men; 24Knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for you serve the Lord Christ. 25But he that does wrong shall receive for the wrong which he has done: and there is no respect of persons.
James 2: 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
James says that we are going to be judged by the law of liberty. Our lives are going to be examined in the light of God’s Word. Those who have shown Mercy, will be shown Mercy.
There are Five main rewards – our inheritance in heaven. The bible speaks of them as crowns. These are the privileges of service for the King of Kings.
1. The incorruptible crown. – for those who strive to serve Christ acceptably.
1 Cor. 9: 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25And every man that strives for it is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 Therefore I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27But 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 disqualified. [practice what we preach!].
2. Crown of Rejoicing – the reward for witnessing for Christ.
1 Thes. 2 19 For what is our hope or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are you not even to be in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy.
Paul was speaking here to the people that he had won over to Christ. It gives one great joy to win another over for Christ, so much so, that those we have won over will actually be our glory when Jesus comes back. We will receive a crown of rejoicing for the souls that we have led to Christ. It is perhaps the greatest reward anyone can receive.
3. The crown of glory – the reward for being a good example.
1 Peter 5: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
Being shepherds of the flock of God means we need to be doers of the Word, being good examples to others – practicing what we preach! We need to make sure that those we lead to the Lord are discipled properly. We need to take care of those that God has entrusted to your ministry or teaching.
4. The crown of life – reward for suffering for Christ.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
5. The crown of righteousness – for keeping your faith until the end.
2 Tim. 4: 6For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
The rewards we will be given will be the responsibility that we are given in God’s eternal kingdom, and it will never be changed, it is for ever, eternal. But, it is determined here, on earth.
2 Thessalonians 1: 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
Possibly the greatest punishment of all! To be shut out from the presence of God!
Other Scriptures: Jude 6; Revelation 14:10-11; Revelation 20:10;
One of the greatest truths in scripture is the coming again of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Titus 2: 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. ….. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Hell was originally prepared for Satan and his angels. Because of sin, man is also destined for eternity in Hell unless He is redeemed by Jesus Christ: Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41) Punishment for the wicked is eternal. The same word that is used for eternal life in the Bible (John 3:15) and the eternal God (I Timothy 1:17) is used to describe eternal judgment (Hebrews 6:2). If one of these is temporary, then the other two would have to be temporary.
There is no way to escape the conclusion that if God is everlasting and eternal life is everlasting, then so is punishment in Hell. God does not send people to Hell. Man chooses to go there by rejecting Jesus Christ and living a sinful life. God has provided a way of escape from eternal punishment through the plan of salvation. He is not willing that any should perish.
ETERNAL DESTINY OF THE UNRIGHTEOUS
Hell is the eternal destiny of the wicked. Hell is a place of:
And the Devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)
MEMORY AND REMORSE:
And in Hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom…But Abraham said, Son remember that thou in thy lifetime receivest thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. (Luke 16:23,25)
And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water; and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. (Luke 16:24)
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.(Daniel 12:2)
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth. (Proverbs 11:7)
THE DESTINY OF THE RIGHTEOUS
The righteous are destined to eternal life in the presence of God. The presence of God is called Heaven. In the Bible it is described by several names:
THE FATHER’S HOUSE:
Jesus described it as His Father’s house, a place of home, rest, and fellowship: In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)
A HEAVENLY COUNTRY:
The Bible compares Heaven to a country to which we are traveling just as Israel traveled to the Promised Land: But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He hath prepared for them a city.(Hebrews 11:16)
Heaven is compared to a city: And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven… (Revelation 21:2)
HOW THEN SHOULD WE LIVE?
How should the doctrine of eternal judgment affect our lives as believers? When writing on the subject of future judgment, the Apostle Peter answered this question: Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness…Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, blameless.(II Peter 3:11,14)
Understanding of eternal judgment should result in spiritual maturity in the life of the believer. The subject of Christian maturity, which Paul calls “going on to perfection,” is the subject of next chapter.
The use of Laying of hands started from the Old Testament. The majority of Old-Testament mentions the priests and ceremonies.
In the Old Testament we found out that laying of hands were used for the followings:
1. Offering Sacrifice
1. In the Old Testament did the laying on of hands play a part in offering sacrifices? Exodus 29:10; Leviticus 1:4; 3:2, 8, 13; 4:15.
We also find a special use, especially in Leviticus (1:4; 3:2, 8, 13; 4:4, 15, 24, 29, 33; 16:21; also Exodus 29:10, 15, 19; Numbers 8:12), where the duly appointed priests “lay hands” on a sacrifice to ceremonially place God’s righteous curse on the animal, instead of on the sinful people.
The Aaronic priests were purified for service to God through the transfer of their sins to a bull.
When an Israelite presented a peace or a sin offering, he laid his hands upon the animal being offered, identifying himself with it and transferring his guilt to the animal. Thus, the animal was set apart by God through the laying on of hands.
2. Transfer of authority
Laying on of hands used in Old Testament for ordinations.
Numbers 8:10; 27:16-23; Deuteronomy 34:9.
In Numbers 8:10, God’s people lay their hands on the priests to officially commission them as their representatives before God, and in Numbers 27:18, God instructs Moses to lay his hands on Joshua to commission him formally as the new leader of the nation
Moses laid his hands upon Joshua, signifying the transferal of some of his authority to lead the nation. This rite of ordination was always accompanied by a special commission and the giving of special authority.
3. For Judgment
Was laying on of hands used in passing judgment? Exodus 7:4; Leviticus 24:14; Deuteronomy 13:6-10. Was it used when sparing someone from judgment? Genesis 22:12; Exodus 24:9-11.
God laid His hands on Egypt in divine judgment by sending plagues. When trying a blasphemer, each witness placed his hands upon the guilty person to signify his acceptance of the verdict.
Were special blessings conferred by the laying on of hands? Genesis 48:12-20; Psalm 139:4-6; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17.
Jacob laid his hands on his grandsons’ heads to confer God’s blessing upon them. David considered God’s hand upon him as a blessing and comfort. Jesus blessed little children by laying His hands on them.
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The doctrine of the laying on of hands in the new testament refers to the transference of four things through physical contact:
2. Anointing and consecration for service, i.e. ministry,
3. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, and
4. Healing and deliverance.
Let’s briefly look at all four.
Blessing (or General Prayer)
Jacob laid his hands on his grandsons’ heads to confer God’s blessing upon them. David considered God’s hand upon him as a blessing and comfort. Jesus blessed little children by laying His hands on them.
Jesus placed his hands on children and blessed them (Mark 10:13,16& Matthew 19:13,15). To ‘bless’ someone means “to speak positive words that have a productive impact.” The official priestly prayer supports this definition (Numbers 6:22-27) and you can find these types of prayer/blessings all over the Bible, e.g. Romans 15:13 and Colossians 1:9-12.
Blessing or prayer in this manner is so important because words “have the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21). Whether people know it or not, our words bring life or death, blessing or cursing. Proverbs 12:18 reinforces this: “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Special blessings are conferred by the laying on of hands both in new testament and old testament. Genesis 48:12-20; Psalm 139:4-6; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17
Needless to say, the idea that “words can never hurt me” is a lie.
Kids and youth are especially vulnerable to “reckless words” or verbal abuse, particularly from authority figures in their lives (Colossians 3:21). Adults who continually berate, belittle and call children names are speaking a prophecy of death and destruction over them (!).
Blessing, by contrast, is a prophecy of life, which is why Jesus laid his hands on children and blessed them.
Words are powerful by themselves and adding the dimension of touch magnifies their impact.
Anointing/Separation for Ministry
Hands are to be lain on those called of God to special service. Biblical examples include the Levites (Numbers 8:10-11), Joshua, (Numbers 27:18-23), Stephen & six others (Acts 6:1-6) and Saul & Barnabas (Acts 13:2-3).
Obviously the people who qualify for such a rite of passage should already be full of faith, God’s Word and the Spirit, as was the case with Joshua and Steven in the aforementioned examples. The laying on of hands simply provides a stronger anointing to fulfill their God-given assignment.
People are set apart for special tasks? Acts 6:3-6; 13:2-3; I Timothy 5:22.
As in these examples, the laying on of hands is part of a formal ceremony by which the church commissions selected people into their new service. Paul advises that this should take place only after the entire matter is properly and prayerfully considered
Paul instructed his young Timothy, to not be “hasty in the laying on of hands” (1 Timothy 5:22) because ministers must be tested for character and faithfulness and there’s no test like the test of time. Those who hastily confirm untested ministers share responsibility for the damage they eventually do to people.
The Holy Spirit Baptism
Hands are to be laid on believers to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is evidenced by speaking in tongues (Acts 19:1-7).
In the book of Acts, baptism in the Holy Spirit sometimes resulted in speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4; 10:44-46; Acts 19:6). However, in other instances, people believed and therefore received baptism in the Holy Spirit, but nothing is said of tongues (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:14; 8:17; 13:12, 48; 14:1; 17:12, 34; 18:8).
Again, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that every believer has received the baptism in the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13), but not every believer speaks in tongues
(1 Corinthians 12:27-31).
As a result, there is no specific sign that a believer should expect when they are saved and receive baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has experienced baptism in the Holy Spirit. That is why Paul could state, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body… we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13). As we read in Acts chapter 2, baptism in the Holy Spirit began on the day of Pentecost. This was in fulfillment of Jesus’ words in Acts 1:5, “…but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
The Apostles experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. It resulted in them being empowered to proclaim the Gospel and lead thousands of people to faith in Christ (Acts 2:41).
In two instances later in Acts, the baptism in the Holy Spirit was temporarily delayed in order to demonstrate to the Apostles that Samaritans (Acts 8:14-17) and Gentiles (Acts 10:27-48) were equally a part of God’s plan of salvation.
The Apostle Peter proclaimed, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” From that point on, every believer received the baptism in the Holy Spirit the moment they believed.
Healing and Spiritual Deliverance
Jesus said that believers “will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mark 16:17-18).
The book of Acts says “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and… he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him” (Acts 10:38). We see evidence of this throughout the Gospels. Here are some examples plus important additional info:
Jesus laid hands on sick people and healed them or exorcized demons from them (Luke 4:40-41).
A woman who was subject to bleeding for twelve years heard about Jesus’ anointing to heal and therefore had faith to receive healing from him (Mark 5:25-34). When the woman touched his cloak Jesus sensed “power had gone out from him” (verse 30).
Jesus had an anointing to heal, but his ministry was very limited in his hometown because of the people’s lack of faith due to a “spirit of familiarity”—meaning they were so familiar with Jesus during his first three decades that they couldn’t acknowledge his divine anointing and receive from it (Mark 6:1-6). This example reveals that receiving a healing is a matter of faith in regards to the person praying (i.e. the human conduit of God’s power), as well as the recipient of the healing, which shows that receiving a healing via a human conduit involves a combination of faith. Needless to say, there’s power in agreement (Matthew 18:20 & Leviticus 26:8).
People with the greatest faith do not require hands to be laid on them for healing or deliverance. This type of faith accepts the LORD at His Word, like the centurion from Matthew 8:5-10,13. In other words, they don’t require a human conduit to receive healing or deliverance from God. As noted earlier, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit can be received this way (Luke 11:13).
Important Points on Transmitting the Anointing
Here are several things to keep in mind when you lay hands on people to bless, pray, heal or deliver:
Only make physical contact when you are ready to release your faith.
While praying over someone you will sense your faith reaching its peak; that’s when you should make contact.
Children may freak out a bit when you lay hands on them because the anointing—God’s pcower—is new to them, but don’t let it derail you. Be at peace and keep ministering in faith, as led of the Holy Spirit.
God’s anointing is like electricity flowing through you and your hand is the conductor for this power like an electricity cable.
When you experience the anointing you’ll naturally get excited, which is great; just be careful not to absorb it through excessive shouting, laughing and leaping; rather channel it to those who need it. In short, don’t waste the anointing—get your hands on someone!
Since your words and hands are the primary vehicles in which the Spirit transmits the anointing to others don’t waste words or motions. Watch your words and actions and be careful not to do anything that will drain or lose the anointing, including grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).
Put your words and motions in a direct line and use them to bring healing or deliverance to those in need. It’s akin to using a rifle: You aim it at the appropriate target in order to hit it. Wasting words and motions will cause you to miss the target.
If you want God’s power to operate strongly in your life, as was the case with The Christ (Acts 10:38), you must discipline yourself to spend time with the LORD. In other words, saturate yourself with God through praise, worship, the Word and prayer. You can’t run around gabbing and doing frivolous things—watching TV, playing golf or computer games, etc.—right before a ministry engagement and expect the anointing to be strong when you minister.
The anointing flows out of your inmost being like rivers of living water out of the very core of your soul/spirit (John 7:37-39). As such, you must protect the anointing so that it’ll be there when you need it.
You can’t give something if you don’t have it and therefore you can’t expect the anointing to flow out of you if you haven’t prepared yourself beforehand to operate in God’s power. You must never allow people or things to rob you of your worship/Word/prayer time, particularly before you’re scheduled to minister. Turn off your phone.
Most Christians unfortunately don’t know much about the laying on of hands. This section reveals its importance.
3. Instructions about Baptisms
When Jesus gave the great command of the great commission He said “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Here the Scriptures cannot be clearer.
1. Go make disciples.
2. Baptizing them (disciples)
3. Teaching them (disciples).
The disciples were to make more disciples by preaching the gospel, baptizing those who believed it, and then teaching them to obey all that Jesus had commanded. We are commanded to preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) in the power of the Holy Spirit, baptize those who believe, and then teach them to be obedient to all Christ taught.
The third basic doctrine is biblical teachings about baptisms. The Greek word for ‘baptize’ is baptizó (bap-TID-zoh), which means “overwhelmed, covered or submerged.” It was used in reference to being “baptized” by debts in ancient times.
THE COMMAND TO BE BAPTIZED
The noun form is in the plural in Hebrews 6:2 because there are three baptisms in Christianity. Most Christians only know about water baptism. Every believer should experience all the three baptisms, but the first one must be experienced to be a Christian.
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38).
“Those who received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:41).
“When they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip” (Acts 8:12–13).
Types of baptisms are:
Baptism into the word of God
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Baptism of Suffering
Let’s address these:
Baptism into word of God
Baptism into the word of God is very important because it is only those who accepted to follow Jesus can be baptized. They are baptized for the decision they have made to follow and do what God required from them on daily basis.
From the scriptures below we can understand that people are declared cleaned when they have heard the word of God and believe it
You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
The gospel begins with the preaching of the word of God to the unbeliever and anyone who does not believed will not be baptized, because he has no faith. This is clear from the book of Romans 10:14-17 that says faith come through hearing of the word of Christ. And someone has to tell them about the word which they will believe and based on their believe to the word of God their heart will be cleansed from their sinful thought and they will embrace the gospel through the word they heard and believed.
This refers to being spiritually born-again through the word of God. Notice what the Scriptures say about this baptism:
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, (27) for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit Titus 3:5
The reason the baptism into Christ is a foundational doctrine is because it’s impossible to be a Christian apart from this new spiritual birth. If someone says they’re a believer, but aren’t spiritually regenerated then they’re a Christian in name only and aren’t genuinely saved.
If you come across any minister or group that says people don’t have to be spiritually reborn to be a Christian, as Jesus stressed in John 3:3,6, they should be rejected as false teachers. As Jesus said about the false teachers of his day: “Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:14).
Baptism in water is simply a public testimony of the believer’s baptism into Christ. Acts 10:47-48 is a good example. Here are five things about water baptism you should know:
- It is an outward expression of a personal decision already made.
- It symbolizes death to the sin nature.
- Being lifted out of the water symbolizes resurrection to a new life (Romans 6:1-4).
- In addition, the water obviously represents the “washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
- Believers are to be baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
I’m sure you see why water baptism is as important as the baptism into the word of God since water baptism is merely the symbolic testimony of what has already taken place spiritually through the baptism into Christ.
We are not literally dying when we go under the water, we are symbolically dying. We are “baptized into His death” in a figurative way, we are not literally dead as He was. We are symbolizing our death to self and sin and our being raised to live the new life He gives. Thus it was necessary for Paul to say right after he talked about being “baptized into His death”, “reckon yourselves to be dead” (Romans 6:11). We are baptized “for the remission of our sins” by submitting to immersion in the watery grave of baptism.
Just as Adam was our head before we became Christians so now Christ is the “new Adam”, our federal head. As in Adam all die, so in Christ all live (1 Corinthians 15:22). Because Christ is now our representative, when He died we died with Him (2 Timothy 2:11), and when He was raised we were raised with Him. Baptism is a beautiful and holy reenactment of those truths. Thus our eternal salvation was completed before we were born, completely outside of us or our abilities. “This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him,We shall also live with Him.”(2 Timothy 2:11)
THREE METHODS BY WHICH BAPTISMS IS BEEN DONE
Baptism performed by submerging an individual in water is called baptism by immersion. Eastern Orthodox churches and some Protestant denominations practice this method of baptism. They conduct baptism in this way to imitate early church practice, which many theologians believe predominately practiced baptism by submerging individuals in moving bodies of water.
A baptism conducted by sprinkling holy water onto someone’s head is called baptism by aspersion. The method of baptism is practiced by Catholics and some Protestant denominations. Proponents of the method argue that the Greek word “baptizo” can mean “to put an element or liquid on or above.” Though theologians recognize that baptism by immersion is the typical way baptism was administered, historical practice recognizes aspersion as a common alternative for sick people, children and individuals in prison. People who practice this type of baptism do not deny the validity of baptism by immersion. Instead, they view their practice as also valid and more practical in modern circumstances.
Baptism performed by pouring water onto someone’s head is called baptism by affusion. About the 10th century, affusion became the predominant method of baptism. Today, the Roman Catholic Church believes that baptism is valid only if the water that a person touches is moving. Thus, immersion in stagnant bodies of water and sprinkling water onto someone’s head do not adequately demonstrate an individual’s old life being washed away and are considered invalid practices by the Roman Catholic Church.
Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Being baptized into Christ is essentially one-in-the-same as being “born of the Spirit” (John 3:3,6), but being born of the Spirit is distinct from the baptism of the Spirit, although they can occasionally happen at the same time. When you’re born of the Spirit, the Spirit is in you (Romans 8:9 & 1 Corinthians 6:19), whereas when you’re baptized in the Spirit, the Spirit is all over you because you’re covered or overwhelmed by the Spirit.
Speaking in tongues is the initial physical evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. While speaking in tongues is not the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is not speaking in tongues, they go hand in hand. Here are five scriptural examples of people receiving this baptism:
- The believers in Jerusalem, as shown in Acts 2:1-4. All of them spoke in tongues.
- The Samaritans, as shown in Acts 8:12-19. The Samaritans were part Jew and part Gentile. Verse 18 shows that Simon the sorcerer “saw” that the Spirit was given to the Samaritans when the apostles laid their hands on them. In other words, he saw evidence that they received the Holy Spirit. What did he see? We must interpret Scripture with Scripture, which is a hermeneutical rule. Since the rest of the New Testament shows that speaking in tongues is the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, this must’ve been what Simon saw—people speaking in languages they didn’t know.
- Saul in Damascus, as shown in Acts 9:17-18. Although speaking in tongues is not mentioned in this passage, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is, and we observe scriptural evidence elsewhere that Saul (Paul) spoke in tongues on a regular basis, which is praying in the spirit (1 Corinthians 14:18-19).
- Cornelius’ household in Caesarea, as shown in Acts 10:44-48. This refers to the first Gentile believers. Verses 45-46 state that “The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.” Since believers who are not baptized in the spirit can and do praise God, the evidence of the baptism is obviously speaking in tongues.
- The Ephesians, as shown in Acts 19:5-7. This passage shows that all twelve spoke in tongues as a result of receiving the baptism, not just a select few.
As already noted every Christian can and should receive this baptism and pray in the spirit to supplement prayer in his or her everyday language. This can be observed in 1 Corinthians 14:14-15, 18-19 and Ephesians 6:18. I have to emphasize this because there’s this idea rampant in the body of Christ that speaking in tongues was done away with once the biblical canon was completed. Don’t believe it; it’s a colossal lie that has allowed the enemy to keep multitudes of sincere believers from the full empowerment and help of the Holy Spirit.
Praying in the spirit is important because it edifies us by building us up in faith and empowers us to witness, to love people and to walk free from sin, which we’ll look at momentarily.
Before we do, there are a few things about the baptism of the Spirit and speaking in tongues that should be stressed and clarified:
Just because a Christian is baptized in the Spirit and can speak in tongues it does not mean that he or she is walking in the spirit; that is, bearing fruit of the spirit, like love, joy, peace, kindness, faith, humility and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Putting it another way, to be spirit-controlled is synonymous with bearing fruit of the spirit but just because a believer is baptized in the Spirit and can speak in tongues doesn’t mean that he or she is participating in the divine nature, i.e. walking in the spirit and producing the fruit thereof (2 Peter 1:4).
If a Christian can walk in the spirit to a good degree without the baptism of the Holy Spirit, how much more so if they are baptized in the Holy Spirit! In other words, just because you’re doing well spiritually without speaking in tongues, don’t let it rob you of this wonderful gift that God has provided for all believers!
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is usually transferred through physical contact via the ministry of the laying on of hands, but not always. Although the gift can be received in this manner through someone who already has it, as shown in some of the above examples, a believer can also receive it simply through faith (Luke 11:9-13). In fact, everything in our covenant is by faith.
If any believer has hands laid on them for this baptism and they don’t speak in tongues it doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t receive the baptism. They may have received it, but they simply have yet to speak in tongues. We have to understand that speaking in tongues—praying in the spirit—are something that the believer does by his or her volition and is not something the Holy Spirit makes people do. Remember what Paul said: “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind” (1 Corinthians 14:15). Just as praying in a language you understand is an act of your own will, so is praying in the spirit. With this understanding, if I chose to I could theoretically not pray in the spirit the rest of my life even though I’m baptized in the Spirit.
On that note, there are too many Christians who are baptized in the Spirit and yet rarely if ever pray in the spirit and therefore lack the empowerment the Holy Spirit wants to give them. Speaking of which…
The Empowerment and Help of the Holy Spirit
The reason I’m going into so much detail about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and praying in the spirit is because they are God-given sources of great empowerment for the believer to walk in newness of life and victory. Unfortunately, many believers settle for less than God’s best and they go through life struggling with things they don’t need to struggle with because the LORD has provided them the power and help they need—if only they knew of these truths and implemented them! This is the very reason God detailed these truths in His Word and it’s why I’m stressing them here.
With this understanding, notice the power that Paul said was available for his protégé Timothy:
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of hands. (7) For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:6-7
What gift was Paul talking about? He doesn’t say, but there are clues: The gift was given through the laying on of hands and it is linked to the spirit or Spirit.* Since Scripture interprets Scripture we must conclude that Paul was referring to the baptism of the Spirit because
1. This gift involves the Spirit and
2. there’s repeated evidence that this gift is typically transferred through the laying on of hands. As such, the baptism of the Spirit is the obvious answer.
Keeping in mind that there was no capitalization in the original Greek and so translators have to determine whether the Greek word for ‘spirit’—pneuma (NYOO-ma)—refers to the human spirit (un-capitalized) or the Holy Spirit (capitalized).
By instructing Timothy to “fan into flame” this gift he was simply encouraging him to pray in the spirit more often, which is actually the seventh piece of the armor of God (Ephesians 6:18). What does he mean by fan it into flame? Speaking from experience, (Luke 5:16)
Power, love and self-discipline.
Power. The Greek word for ‘power’ is dunamis (DOO-nah-miss) and it’s where we get the English word dynamite. When you pray in the spirit you’re building yourself up in dynamite power! The more you pray in the spirit the more you’ll be empowered—anointed—to fulfill whatever mission the LORD gives you. As you grow you’ll kiss timidity goodbye!
Love. As you pray in the spirit you’ll build yourself up in agape (ah-GAH-pay) love, which is simply practical love. Hence, you’ll be able to practically love people whom you don’t even like, including enemies. Put another way, you’ll be empowered to love people for whom you don’t have loving feelings. By doing this you’ll fulfill the biblical instruction to love your enemies (Luke 6:35), which—I always stress—includes tough love when appropriate.
Self-Discipline. As you pray in the spirit you’ll also be built up in self-discipline, which means self-control. You’ll find yourself being able to do things you never had the discipline to do previously. You’ll be empowered to quit negative behaviors or addictions that you’ve struggled with for years.
In short, it’ll give you the edge to win spiritually. I’m sure you see why the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a foundational doctrine. Christians who write off this incredible gift due to the false doctrine that charismatic gifts passed away with the last of the original apostles are robbing themselves. And believers who have the gift but don’t “fan it into flame” are wasting it and robbing themselves of great power and anointing that would enable them to walk in newness of life.
BAPTISM OF SUFFERING
Baptism of Suffering – Jesus (and the disciples). Although this baptism is not described, we can get the general picture from these verses…. Luke 12: 49,50 I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished! (“submerged in a sea” of opposition, suffering and hatred) Matthew 20: 22,23 (also Mark 10: 38-40) But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”
John 21:18-19 Truly, truly, I tell you, when you were young, you dressed yourself and walked where you wanted; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And after He had said this, He told him, “Follow Me.”