Jesus told us all in Scripture, “temptations [are] sure to come.” Satan’s first temptation to Jesus dealt with overcoming the flesh. Our Lord overcomes the temptation by informing the devil that man lives by the whole counsel of God’s Word. (Matthew 4:4)
To prepare God’s children for service to Christ’s church, the Holy Spirit has given gifts (1 Corinthians 12) to the servants of the Lord. A mature Christian must ask these questions, “Am I exercising my gift for myself?” or, “Do I sacrificially use my gift for the good of Christ and others?” No Christian is beyond the temptation of using Spiritual gifts selfishly. Christians must depend upon the Holy Spirit to enable them to use their Spiritual gifts for Jesus Christ and exercise their gifts sacrificially for the good of others.
Jesus’ second temptation from Satan was to use sensationalism to prove He was the Son of God. (Matthew 4:6) God expects us to take risks in order to be true to Him, when called to, but He does not expect us to take risks to enhance our own prestige. Ministries have often used glorified testimonies to draw attention to their church. They often let people know of the risk they take to accomplish their vision. Jesus quoting “..do not put the Lord your God to the test” shows us that “God’s rescuing power is not something to be played and experimented [with;] it is something to be quietly trusted in the life of everyday living.” (Daily Bible Study Series)
Satan’s third temptation to Christ was to not stay on course of His Father’s plan. Satan was saying, “If you just worship me, you can by pass the cross and all its pain.” Since Satan is the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4) and the prince of this world, (Ephesians 2:2) he was telling Jesus, “I can accomplish God’s will for you.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary) Jesus’ answer, “Away from me Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only’” (Matthew 4:10) This rebuke is the Christian’s victory. God’s word, His Son and walking instep of the Holy Spirit, requires Christians to worship the Triune God in Spirit and truth, trusting the whole of Scripture.
God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit had met before the creation of the world – they made a plan for the redemption of mankind and the earth. (Ephesians 1:4) Jesus knew the plan; He was not going to change the plan, no matter what.
If Christians seek the Lord wholeheartedly, God will reveal His plan to them. Do not let anyone change that plan. Do not let any temptation turn you from achieving His high calling upon your life. God’s Word has a promise, “…in view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)
Let the Holy Spirit examine your heart with these questions? 1.) Do you take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ? 2.) Do you make decisions based off the whole counsel of God’s Word? 3.) Are you a good “Berean” one who takes what you hear and compares it to the Word of God? 4.) Is what you say, do, and envision for the Lord’s glory, or yours? 5.) Do you sacrificially exercise your Holy Spirit gifts to point people to Christ and for the good of all mankind?
Dangers of Self-righteousness
The sacrament of water baptism is a beautiful illustration of the cleansing of God’s elect from all their sins through the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Satan works hard to get Christians debating over the mode of baptism, keeping them from grasping the heart of water baptism. The writer of the Book of Romans wrote it so clearly, “…don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:3-23) What are you dying for? Each of us is spending our lives on something, the flesh, the world, Satan or Christ.
In Dr. Charles Swindoll book, “The tale of the Tardy Oxcart” we find the true story about what happens when we set our own external acts of worship over God’s righteousness. The article was written by Haddon Robinson with the title, “What Jesus Said about Successful Living”
“Joe Bayly, the late Eternity magazine columnist, visited some Germans who were religious and who had been devoted soldiers in the German army during World War II. Two of them had been put up for promotion to become second lieutenants in the Nazi Army.
“They were told that their promotions would be accepted. However, there were conditions to the promotions – both of them would have to join the Officers’ club and attend some weekend dances.
“This was a major problem, the conviction of two candidates – they had been taught by the church dancing was wrong for it could lead to immorality. The two faithful soldiers turned down the promotions.
“Later in their military careers these same two men were assigned to the death camps where thousands of Jews were stuffed into ovens and killed. Even though they did not directly participate in the slaughter, they knew what was going on.
“When Jo Bayly talked to the two soldiers years after the war, they looked back on their experience with no regret, convinced that they had made the right decisions. For them, not conforming to social pressure and refusing not to dance was an act of righteousness. And conforming to patriotic mass murder and remaining silent while thousands of Jews burned in ovens left them with no feelings of unrighteousness.” Hadden Robinson wrote, “When we set our own standard of external righteousness, we are capable of any evil.”
Let the Holy Spirit place this truth deep within your heart: do not set your life on the conjecture of man about water baptism; set your heart on what the whole of Scripture teaches about God and Jesus’ righteousness. Touch the holy things of God with holy hands.
What Does Your Public Testimony Say?
Alastair Brooks’ Baptism Testimony: May 22, 2011
“My parents are Christians. [They] took me along with them to our village church, which I remember mainly as a challenge in sleeping on wooden pews. I am very grateful to my parents for my upbringing, teaching me, so I can grow up with an understanding of many of the Bible stories.
“I am especially thankful to them for taking us to the ‘new wine’ summer conferences, which are Christian holiday camps with church services and children’s activities for the week. It was at one of these services I came in contact with the alive and meaningful good news about Jesus. During an evening service the preacher invited those who wanted to become Christians to come to the front. I went forward, accepted Jesus with great joy.
“I believed in Jesus, however, I failed to walk in step with the Holy Spirit of Christ. I would defend Christianity and its ethics in discussions with friends. For the most part being a Christian to me meant adopting a philosophical framework.
“I knew that this conflict between believing and not acting was wrong and unstable. My religious way of living moved me to seek the Lord only a few times a year and in times of crisis. Like hunger being satisfied, once things had resolved, I would no longer want Jesus to have any say in my life and things would return to the way they were.
“Since finishing school, the Lord has been working in my life, changing me. I now know His plan is the best one, and that means a full time living relationship with Him, trusting and serving Him. There are still many times in the past few years when I have made decisions based off of fleshly desires, a world few and even after listening to lies of the devil. However, the Lord’s chastisements opened doors to find His faithfulness to forgive and mold me into His image.
“Why am I being baptized? People have been surprised when I’ve said I’m getting baptized, assuming I was baptized years ago. My wish to be baptized is testament to the Lord’s unfailing love, the work He has done in my life through His sacrifice and the work He continues to do through His Holy Spirit.
“Jesus is real, He didn’t die just for me. We have all done wrong, angering God and we will be judged according to the lives we have lived. We face death and separation from Him for that [wrongdoing]. God has made a way for us to be right with Him, He sent His only son Jesus to die in the place of those who believe and place their trust in Him.
“I believe that Jesus, as witnessed by the Gospels, is the Son of God and in dying on the cross He took the punishment allotted to me for my wrong doing. There is nothing in me that deserves this salvation or makes me eligible to approach the Lord, I am entirely dependent on His grace. I am looking forward to the new creation, when Jesus will come back again to make things right forever, and by His grace I hope to serve Him faithfully until that time.
After your baptism celebration ceremony, what will be your testimony before the eyes of those in this world, God and Christ?
The church often struggles under the cancers of traditionalism, legalism, denominationalism, and faddisms. For example, there was a time when certain denominations worked with the state to make laws, “declaring that anyone who accepted adult baptism after being baptized as an infant would be subject to the death penalty.” (The Foundation Series for Youth, Believer’s Baptism; Publish by Brethren in Christ, Writer Owen Alderfer) The secret to overcoming the cancers that afflict the church is to have the spiritual heart that reflects a life that says, “It is not what I want, but what God wants for me.” When a person’s heart is in tune with God’s heart, that person will not focus on what he or she wants in the baptism celebration ceremony, but their focus will be on what pleases God.
I propose to you that the Lord is not bound to the doctrine of men, but longs for Christians to have Holy Spirit illumination of God’s Word regarding water baptism.
Jesus gave clear instructions to His church: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 18-20)
Water baptism was administered by John the Baptist. (Matthew 3:5-12; John 3:23; Acts 13:24) Water baptism was sanctioned by Christ’s submission to it. (Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 3:21-22) Jesus adopted baptism into His ministry. (John 3:22; 4:1) Water baptism is the appointed ordinance of the true Christian church. (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16) Water baptism is to be administered in the names of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19)
Just what does the Word of God say about Water Baptism? What is the purpose of this declaration? What is your responsibility? Over the next several Biblical teachings, I will present these truths:
- Sacrament of water baptism is a very important step in the Christian’s life
- Modes of this Christian celebration
- You are expected to live the life
- Baptized opens the spiritual heart to more of God’s will
Baptism Opens the Spiritual Heart to More of God’s Will
Obedience to Jesus’ mandate to be baptized opens the spiritual heart to more of God’s will and empowerment in your service to Him. Matthew 3:16 says, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him.”
In Matthew 4:1 we read, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” The primary reason for the temptations of Jesus after His baptism was so we could have a Lord who has been tempted as we are, yet He did not sin. Because He was victorious over Satan’s temptations, (Hebrews 4:15) we can, “…approach the throne of God with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
To be tempted (πειράζω peirázō) means to experience trials, to prove either a good or bad sense, soliciting to sin. (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament) The purpose of this temptation is to learn the true nature or character of a person, to cause someone not to succeed at the endeavor to which God has called them too. (Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains; Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament)
Many think that just because they obeyed the command to be baptized that they will no longer face trials and temptations. The promise is that when trials and temptations come, we have Jesus, in whose Name we are baptized, He will send His Holy Spirit to empower us to overcome (Romans 8:34) and comfort us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
Jesus showed us how to conquer the temptations of Satan and the trials of life. Jesus’ victory over temptation enables us to trust in the promises in God’s Word and seek the whole counsel of Scripture as we face the lies of the devil, the world’s lures and the seduction of the flesh. When we trust in Christ to overcome Satan temptations, we find ourselves prepared to be used by God.
Modes of this Christian Celebration
Jesus and His disciples spoke of the importance of baptism. However, the New Testament is not altogether clear as to the methodology of this Christian celebration. Baptism ceremonies are performed in baptisteries, lakes, streams and even oceans. Christians throughout history have been water baptized through different methods, including but not limited to sprinkling, the pouring of water over the head three times, immersion going straight down, forward and backwards, et cetera. The key significance is that the person has accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord by faith. (Acts 18:8; Ephesians 2:8-10) The person to be baptized has in repentance (Act 2:38; 3:19; 17:30) turned from his or her old life and put on the new one in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). The new believer craves to be taught the things of God and has asked to be baptized. (Acts 8: 26-39)
What is spiritually significant to enjoying a baptismal service is the motive of the person’s heart in the baptism ceremony, not the method. How do we know this?
There is much debate within Christianity on the proper mode of baptism. Personally, I agree with many denominations where immersion is the best method of Christian baptism. I am in agreement with Rev. Matt Slick, “we should be careful to assert that baptism can only mean immersion…” in regard to the Christian baptism ceremony. This is especially important when we look at the whole of Scripture in regards to being adopted in the family of God, becoming children of God, and accepted by God through the shed blood of Christ. A true student of God’s Word will consider the whole of Scripture in regard to being saved through the blood of Christ, meaning we are purchased through Jesus, who gave His life on the Cross for the redemption of our sins.
There is one Scriptural indication that baptize (baptizo), meaning “to immerse or dip,” was translated as (baptismos) in Hebrews 9:10, meaning “various washing” and it is connected to the sprinkling of blood, for it is through the shedding of Jesus’ blood, Christians are redeemed. Biblically, the prototype of sprinkling of blood on certain items was the symbol of being sanctified to God, or rather covered by the blood of Christ. In his teaching on modes of baptism, Rev. Robert Harch pointed out several Scriptural references regarding purification and dedication unto the Lord being performed through the sprinkling or pouring of blood or water. (Exodus 12:22, Hebrews 11:28; Exodus 24:6-8; Hebrews 9:10, 13,14 19, 21,22; Leviticus 4:6; 9:9; 14:6-7; Numbers 19:18-21) The sacrament of water baptism is a beautiful illustration of the cleansing of God’s elect from all their sins through the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. I believe Satan works hard to distract Christians by provoking debates over the method of baptism, thus preventing them from grasping the heart of water baptism.
The symbolic act of water baptism is symbolizing outwardly, the inward dying to the sinful nature to take up a new life, one full of the Lord’s leading and blessings. Water has been used symbolically many times in the Old and New Testament to represent God’s cleansing power. I love that truth proclaimed by Ezekiel, who is writing on behalf of God, explaining the new birth, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and laws. (Ezekiel 36:25-26) Jesus said you must be born of “water and Spirit…” (John 3:5)
Rev. Robert Harbach writes, “The reformed and Presbyterian churches do not [re-baptize] members who have been baptized by immersion. Their baptism is [regarded] as valid.” If churches that sprinkle or pour at their water baptism celebration services can regard immersion baptisms as valid, then churches that perform immersion baptisms should respect baptisms that are done differently. The Lord is not looking at methods; He wants His children to publicly identify with Him as an expression from their heart, for when approached through a heart of repentance and performed in the names of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, all methods of water baptism should be regarded as valid. The doctrine of man should submit to the grace of God.
Any church seeking to enjoy a baptismal service to its fullest, will cast of the cancers of traditionalism, denominationalism, and legalism, so the person being baptized may be Holy Spirit illuminated of the joy of the Lord.