Baptized Again

Posted by Mark Lindley on 28 January 2015

Does anyone ever need to be baptized again? On the occasion of Acts chapter 19, there were some who were baptized again. The following is the account of what happened: “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:1-5).

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"God With Us"

Posted by Mark Lindley on 17 December 2014

During the holiday season many reflect on the birth of Christ. Biblically, there is no precedent to celebrate December 25 as the birth of Christ because the Scriptures are silent about Jesus’ date of birth. Nevertheless, the Scriptures are not silent regarding His birth, and Christians should rejoice always that a Savior was born.

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God Looks On The Heart

Posted by Mark Lindley on 3 December 2014

It was time to appoint a new king. Because of his disobedience, King Saul was dethroned and Samuel was instructed to appoint a new king. In Bethlehem, there was a man named Jesse who had sons. Samuel went to examine Jesse’s sons to see if any of them was fit to be the new king. One of the sons was named Eliab. When Samuel saw him he believed that he was a perfect fit for the king’s throne. However, God said: “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7). It was not Eliab who became the new king, but David. God knew that David had the right kind of heart and that he would do His will (cf. Acts 13:22).
    From I Samuel 16:7 we learn that people have a tendency to judge others by their outward appearance. Even Samuel, prophet of God, judged Eliab based on outward appearance. Our judgments are often based on things such as beauty, clothing, money, occupation, educational background or race. We may see a very attractive, articulate woman and conclude that she must be confident and happy, or we may see a man who has a prestigious educational background and is paid a six-figure salary and judge that he is a great person, someone who would make a good friend. But these judgments based on outward appearance may be very wrong. A woman who is striking in appearance may have low self-esteem; a man who is “successful” may be dishonest and immoral and therefore would not make a good friend.
    The text also teaches that in contrast to our judgments based on external things, God looks on the heart. The “heart” is the inner man, the soul, the real person. God does not care about a person’s job, looks, skin color or education. Rather, God is looking at who we are on the inside. We can all put on a clever disguise and hide from others who we are in heart, but God has full and complete knowledge of every heart. No amount of make-up, money, earthly possessions or accomplishments can hide from God who we are in our hearts (Hebrews 4:12).
    Since God knows our hearts, it logically follows that we should keep our hearts. Solomon wrote, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). To “keep” the heart is to keep it pure from all things which would corrupt it—evil thoughts and desires, deceit, improper motives, jealousy and envy. In view of these things, determine to keep your heart with all diligence . . . God is looking at it!

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How To Have Good Days?

Posted by Mark Lindley on 25 November 2014

There are plenty of books on the market which reveal the “secrets” to having a good life. Many of the ideas presented in such books are beneficial, and will improve one’s quality of life. It is interesting that when one finds a “secret” that works, it is almost certain that the helpful hint discovered has been in the Bible all along.
    The apostle Peter wrote a statement that is specifically designed to help one have good days: “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it” (1 Peter 3:10-11). Following this inspired exhortation will certainly improve one’s life and lead to “good days.”
    Here are the ideas which lead to good days: (1) In order to have good days, one must “refrain his tongue from evil.” In order to avoid using one’s tongue for evil, one must not slander others, gossip, or spread falsehood. Using the tongue for these purposes will surely cause one problems. The one who uses his tongue to tear down others is often responsible for breaking up friendships, causing hurt feelings, and stirring up trouble and strife. Surely, one who is responsible for such things will not have good days. Using the tongue for evil should cause one to feel guilt, regret, and shame. However, the one who uses his tongue to build up others will have a clean conscience, feel good about his conduct and have good days. (2) In order to have good days, one must “eschew evil and do good.” Doing things which are evil never makes life better. Satan is a liar (John 8:44), and he presents temptation in a very deceptive way, causing people to believe that sin holds the key to a more satisfying life. However, partaking of “forbidden fruit” is the way to heartache and brokenness. On the other hand, doing good leads to an enhanced self-esteem, makes the world a better place, and has the approval of God. (3) In order to have good days, “seek peace and ensue it.” Those who make peace do not delight in causing strife and division. The peace-maker creates a better life for himself. He will have fewer enemies and more friends. Who likes to hang around with one who delights in causing trouble and strife? Jesus said that peace makers “shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
    These simple principles applied to life will certainly lead to good days. The greatest Book ever written to improve one’s life is the Bible. Believe and obey it to have good days!

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When To Observe The Lord's Supper?

Posted by Mark Lindley on 25 November 2014

How often should Christians partake of the Lord’s Supper? If this question were presented to preachers of different churches today, it is certain that answers would vary. In denominationalism, there are different views concerning how often the Lord’s Supper should be observed.
    Nevertheless, the Bible is the objective standard of authority that should be consulted for answers. What does the Bible say about the frequency with which the Lord’s Supper is to be observed? Consider an example from the New Testament that shows when early Christians partook of this memorial feast: “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7). Notice three key ideas of this verse: (1) The disciples “came together”; (2) The disciples came together “upon the first day of the week”; (3) The disciples came together upon the first day of the week “to break bread.” Also, consider that Paul, an inspired apostle, was present. He sanctioned observing the Lord’s Supper “upon the first day of the week.” If Paul had wanted these early disciples to partake of the Lord’s Supper at some other time, then surely he would have told them. One can safely conclude, therefore, that the time for partaking of the Lord’s Supper is the first day of every week.
    However, some object saying that if we partake of the bread and fruit of the vine every week, this memorial loses its significance. Therefore, some do not observe the Lord’s Supper weekly, but observe it monthly, quarterly, twice a year, or at other scheduled times.
    A rational and Biblical response to this objection is that the Bible also teaches that early Christians gave of their means “upon the first day of the week” (I Corinthians 16:1-2). If partaking of the Lord’s Supper weekly causes it to lose its significance, then why does giving each week not cause giving to lose its significance? The Bible that teaches Christians to give “upon the first day of the week” is the same Bible that teaches Christians to partake of the Lord’s Supper “upon the first day of the week.”
    Further, all agree that Christians “can” partake of this memorial feast each week. On the other hand, not everyone agrees that Christians can observe it monthly, quarterly, or at other varying times. Therefore, why not do that with which all agree and partake of the Lord’s Supper weekly, instead of causing division by observing communion at unscriptural times? If I were a member of a Church that did not partake of the Lord’s Supper each week, I would want to know why. Why not open the Bible to see whether these things are so?

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Searching The Scriptures

Posted by Mark Lindley on 25 November 2014

Jesus challenged the Jews of His day to “search the Scriptures.” He said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). The Jews took great pride in having the Old Testament Scriptures, but they failed to see that the Scriptures they treasured predicted the coming of Jesus. They loved the Scriptures, but they rejected what the Scriptures taught about Jesus.
    The challenge to “search the Scriptures” is one that we should be willing to accept today. If the Scriptures are the Word of God, then we should accept what they teach and reject any doctrine that is not found in the Scriptures.
    When you search the Scriptures, can you find the Church to which you belong? In order for a Church to be Scriptural, that Church would have to be in the Scriptures. Surely, everyone can see that a Church that is not found in the Bible cannot be Biblical. The Bible claims that it reveals all we need to know in order to be saved (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, any Church that is not mentioned in the Bible has nothing to do with salvation. However, Christ’s church is mentioned repeatedly in the Bible because it “is” necessary for salvation (Matthew 16:18-19; Acts 2:47; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18). This means that a Church not found in the Bible is not Jesus’ church.
    When you search the Scriptures, can you find the baptism to which you submitted? Bible baptism is a burial in water and it is for the remission of sins (Colossians 2:12; Acts 2:38; 22:16). The Scriptures do not teach that baptism can be administered by sprinkling or pouring, nor does the Bible teach that baptism is something that one does to show he has already been saved. Baptism “precedes” salvation (Mark 16:16; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21).
    When you search the Scriptures, can you find “The Sinner’s Prayer?” The truth is that no person on this side of the cross was ever told to say a prayer in order to be saved. No person was ever told to “accept Jesus as your personal Savior” in order to be saved. In the New Testament, those who were saved “obeyed” the Gospel of Christ (Romans 6:3-4, 17-18; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9; Mark 16:15-16). Obeying the Gospel is not the same thing as saying “The Sinner’s Prayer.” Obeying the Gospel is necessary in order to be saved. Saying a prayer to be saved is a doctrine added by men, and it is not a part of God’s plan of salvation.
    Friend, please “search the Scriptures” given in this article, knowing that the author cares deeply for your soul. It is not my intention to make anyone angry; it is my intention to encourage all who read this article to “search the Scriptures.”

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Does "For" Mean "Because Of"?

Posted by Mark Lindley on 25 November 2014

The reason for the question above is that some contend that “for” means “because of” in Acts 2:38. The Bible says, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).
    But why would anyone take the position that “for” means “because of”? The reason is that some deny that baptism is essential to salvation, and, admittedly, Acts 2:38 “seems” to teach that baptism is necessary for salvation. Therefore, some attempt to explain away the obvious meaning of the verse by stating the “for” means “because of.” According to their doctrine, one is to be baptized “because of” the remissions of sins, not “in order to obtain” the forgiveness of sins.
    Nevertheless, in an attempt to run from the teaching of Acts 2:38, those who deny its teaching run into many scriptural difficulties. First, if one is to be baptized “because of” the remission of sins, then one is to repent “because of” the remission of sins also. Repentance and baptism are linked together by the word “and.” Where baptism goes, repentance goes because the two are linked together. However, it makes no sense at all to teach that one is to repent because one’s sins have already been forgiven. In reality, the position that “for” means “because of” has the same word, meaning two different things in the same verse. With regard to “repentance” they say that for means “in order to be forgiven.” With reference to baptism they say that for means “because” one’s sins have been forgiven. Who can believe such irresponsible teaching? The word “for” does not mean “in order to obtain” and “because of” in the same verse! The bottom line: if one is to repent “in order to be forgiven,” then one is to be baptized “in order to be forgiven.”
Second, notice that in the same context, after Peter had said to repent and be baptized, he then continued trying to persuade the people by preaching, “Save yourselves…” (Acts 2:40). The next verse states that about 3,000 people gladly received the word and were baptized (verse 41). But why were they baptized? The answer: they were baptized “in order to be saved.” That is what Peter had just said: “Save yourselves.” I know we can all see that.
    Friend, all reputable scholars translate “for” in Acts 2:38 to mean “in order to obtain” or “in order to receive,” et al. the forgiveness of sins. This is the clear teaching of the verse. Why not accept it, since we will one day be judged by the Word of God (John 12:48)?

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Voting and Church Membership

Posted by Mark Lindley on 25 November 2014

Voting for Church membership is a common practice in denominationalism. I remember that when I first heard about the practice many years ago, I knew it did not “sound” Scriptural. The Bible clearly teaches that God loves all, wants all to be saved, and desires that all be members of the New Testament church. These basic Bible facts seem to clash with the concept of voting for Church membership. Since God wants every person to be a member of the New Testament church, why would there be any need to vote? Do people who vote have more power or authority than God? The answers to these questions seem obvious.
    What is involved in the voting process? There may be some variation among Churches, but the following are the basics steps involved: First, a candidate presents himself/herself to be considered for Church membership. Second, the person affirms that he/she has been saved, and tells about the “experience” of being saved. Third, the Church then votes on that person to determine if the person is a suitable candidate for Church membership. Fourth, depending on the vote, one is either accepted or rejected.
    The practice of voting for Church membership is unscriptural for a number of reasons. First, it is not found anywhere in the Scriptures. In order for a practice to be Scriptural, the practice has to be found in the Scriptures. If voting for Church membership is not found in the Scriptures, and it is not, then it must be an “addition” that originated with men. Second, the whole concept of joining a denomination is foreign to the pages of Bible. Not one person mentioned in the Bible ever joined a protestant denomination. This is an indisputable fact since there were no protestant denominations in the first century. In the New Testament, people were members of “the Lord’s church” (see Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28; I Corinthians 1:2). Third, after the church of Christ was established in Acts chapter 2, no one was ever saved at “point A,” and then joined a Church at “point B.” In the Bible, the moment one is saved from sin, that person is “added,” by God, to the church. Scripture says that “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). If the Lord adds the saved to “the” church, and He does, then why would anyone need to join “another” church? First century Christians were members of “one” church, not two. Should it not be the same in the 21st century? If not, why not?
    Dear reader, if you have been led to believe that the only option you have is to “join” a church (and to be voted on), please understand that you have another option, a Biblical one: be saved and God will add you to His church (Acts 2:37-47). God has already cast His vote for you!

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Why Has All This Happened To Us

Posted by on 25 November 2014

Gideon was a great servant of the Lord and a mighty man of valor (Judges 6:12). Nevertheless, he was a “man” who had fears and doubts. In Gideon’s day, the Midianites were oppressing God’s people and Gideon did not understand how God could be with His people while they were being oppressed by the Midianites. Notice Gideon’s statement:  “And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites” (Judges 6:13). Essentially, Gideon was asking, “If God is with us, then why has all this happened to us?”
    God’s people today often ponder that same thought: If God is with us, then why do we have discouragements, heartaches, trials and burdens? Sometimes, people attempting to comfort the suffering offer remarks which add to the confusion. In trying to comfort the bereaved, one might say, “God loved your son more than we did and God took him home.” In trying to console a faithful child of God who is terminally ill, one might say, “God has a reason for everything.” In other times of trouble, one might say, “You know we should never ask ‘why.’”
But is it really true that God “takes” (takes the lives) of our loved ones because He loves them more than we? Does this mean we are at fault for not loving them more? Is it really true that God has a reason for everything? If an innocent person dies in a head-on collision with a drunk driver, is it because God had a reason for the innocent person to be killed? Is it really wrong to ask “why” when we suffer? Did not Jesus ask, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). If Jesus asked “why,” would it be wrong for us to do so?
The truth is that God created a perfect world, but because of sin we live in a fallen world, one in which there is death and all kinds of suffering (Romans 5:12). God allows us to experience suffering that we might prove our faith, but God is not directly responsible for all the suffering in our world.
I suppose we will always have questions about human suffering and why bad things happen to good people. However, we should understand that God loves us, and that times of trouble provide opportunities for us to grow in faith and patience: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4).

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Calling On the Name of the Lord

Posted by Mark Lindley on 25 November 2014

“And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). What does it mean to call upon the name of the Lord? It is vital that we answer this question because whatever is involved in calling on the name of the Lord is essential to salvation. The Scripture says that the one who calls on the name of the Lord “shall be saved.” Therefore, we learn by implication that the one who “does not” call on the name of the Lord “shall not” be saved. Consequently, it is gravely important that we understand what it means to call on the name of the Lord.
    We know that calling on the name of the Lord is not merely saying a prayer, uttering the words “Lord, Lord.” Jesus made that clear by saying, “Not everyone that saith unto me ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). According to Jesus, only those who “do” the Father’s will, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Saying “Lord, Lord” is not sufficient.
    Putting together the information we have seen in Scripture, we can draw two conclusions: (1) Calling on the name of the Lord is necessary for salvation; (2) Calling on the name of the Lord is not the same thing as saying a prayer, calling Jesus, “Lord.” In view of these thoughts, we know what calling on the name of the Lord is “not”; yet, we have not learned what it means to call on the name of the Lord. So, what does it mean?
    Acts chapter 2 will help. In verse 21, we find the statement that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” This is actually part of a sermon Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2. Peter told his audience to call on the name of the Lord. After instructing the people to call on the name of the Lord, the people inquired, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (verse 37). But why ask what to “do” when Peter had just told them to call on the name of the Lord? They asked what to do because they knew that in order to meet the condition of calling on the name of the Lord they would be required to “do” something. Peter then told the people what to do: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).
    To summarize: Peter told the Jews on the day of Pentecost to call on the name of the Lord. After Peter instructed them to call on the name of the Lord, they asked what to “do.” Peter then told them to repent and be baptized. Therefore, calling on the name of the Lord is the same as obeying the Lord, including the command to “repent and be baptized.”
    

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