Can’t We all get along? 

How are we to live, serve, fellowship with people who we don’t like, talks behind our back, lies, or does us wrong? How are we to go to church with people we don’t like?First, in times of conflict with others our natural human emotions often try to dictate our behavior. We feel anger and then we want to lash out. We feel fear and want to defend or attack. We feel wronged and want to get revenge. But if we allow our emotions to guide our behavior, inevitably we’ll simply make matters worse. Contrary to that, if we hang onto biblical teaching, we’ll find the power to act rightly even when our feelings try to drag us in the wrong direction.

Matthew 5:38-39(HCSB)38 “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 

Second, in times of conflict we must stand solidly upon Scripture because God’s ways of dealing with conflict are generally very different from the world’s ways. When we’re in the midst of some church battle, we’re tempted to adopt the ways of the world. High on the list among these ways is the desire to win. We can also be tempted to use human schemes to defeat our opponents. We spin like we’re in the middle of a dirty political campaign. We rally the troops. We get out the vote. We defend ourselves. We play the victim. We undermine our opponents. We conveniently ignore facts that don’t support our side. We hold grudges, and so forth and so on. It will feel natural to us to use the world’s ways to win church battles, and, as we do, the world around us will cheer.

Matthew 6:14-15(HCSB)14 “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing,[i] your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.

Ephesians 4:32(HCSB) And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

Colossians 3:12-15(HCSB)12 Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. 14 Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.

 But rarely are these the ways of a God who says to us,Isaiah 55:8(HCSB)“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. The world doesn’t have much room for one who tells us to turn the other cheek, who calls us to pray for our enemies, and who urges us to imitate his humble, self-sacrificial servanthood. So we need the Bible to show us different ways to operate in times of conflict: the ways of peace, the ways of the gospel, the ways of Jesus Christ.

Third, in times of conflict among Christians, we need the Bible as the source both of practical guidance (here’s how to act) and of theological insight (here’s how to think about God and the church). The biblical combination of ethics and theology(the study of the nature of God) helps to shape our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Philippians 2:1-4(HCSB)If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. 3 Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
No man is an island 
”All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. John Donne

As Christians we cannot exist alone. We are in constant need of contact with other people. In the church, we see this sense of individualism and disconnectedness as well. Many people serially date churches, never staying in one place very long. Some may stake a claim on a church but remain distant and on the outer fringe, attending only when something better isn’t going on. And then there are those who may indeed have a committed relationship with a church but they are not all in. They aren’t fully known by their community. They don’t rely on the Body when they are struggling or in need. Instead, they wear masks that cover the pain of their lives, pretending that everything’s okay, even though it’s not. In order to get along in this world, we must get along with others. Scripture is all about community. God chose the Israelites to be his people. Leviticus 26:12(HCSB)12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people. They lived and worshipped him together in community. Following the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, God then instituted the church, the Body of Christ as a community of believers. 

1 Corinthians 12:27(HCSB)”Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

Here’s what Paul Tripp says in his book, Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy, “We weren’t created to be independent, autonomous, or self-sufficient. We were made to live in a humble, worshipful, and loving dependency upon God and in a loving and humble interdependency with others. Our lives were designed to be community projects. Yet, the foolishness of sin tells us that we have all that we need within ourselves. So we settle for relationships that never go beneath the casual. We defend ourselves when the people around us point out a weakness or a wrong. We hold our struggles within, not taking advantage of the resources God has given us.” (p. 147)

The truth is, we need each other. We need to trust, rely on, and depend upon other believers. God gave us each other to walk alongside, encourage, and spur one another one in the faith. The writer to the Hebrews says, Hebrews 10:24-25(HCSB)”And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” We are to carry each other’s burdens Galatians 6:2(HCSB)2 Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ, care for each other’s practical needs Romans 12:13(HCSB)13 Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality, warn each other of sin 

1 Thessalonians 5:14(HCSB)14 And we exhort you, brothers: warn those who are irresponsible, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. and rejoice and mourn with each other Romans 12:15(HCSB)15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.

As Christians, our main purpose should be to bring more souls to Christ

How can we accomplish this mission if we don’t get along with people?

Can we win souls if those who see us find out the brethren cannot get along with themselves?
There are rare times when someone needs to be awaken from their complacency, Disagreements and misunderstandings will happen in life, but this is not an excuse to disrespect others. But now in this easily offended world we live in, Christians get the award for the most easily offended people on the planet. The Bible tells us that we should speak to others with love, even if we have to deal strongly with them.But when we have to speak strongly to them, they cry and say your man, or you should talk to me more nicely, never-ending the fact that they are probably in need of awakening or correction. Love and respect should be our guide but Our speech should be kind but firm when necessary.

Ephesians 4:15(HCSB)15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.

Proverbs 15:1(HCSB)A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.

Matthew 5:13-16(HCSB) “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Colossians 4:6(HCSB)6 Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.
Seasoned with salt, what is salt? it is salty. Too much salt will make something taste awful, too little will not bring out the flavor, but just enough saltiness will make someone thirsty. 
There is a distinct pattern given in Matthew 18 for dealing with a problem. I believe this is primarily talking about dealing with problems among believers, but it can be applied in many situations. First you go privately to the one with whom the problem is. Secondly, you take a couple of people with you so that you can establish the facts and that it is no longer a “he said, she said” argument. Finally, if you cannot resolve the issue then bring it to the attention of the authorities. Again, these verses are talking about the authority of the church, but it could also be applied to your office situation.

Matthew 18:15-17(HCSB)15 “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. 17 If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you.
Now that does not speak of Church discipline. The book of 1 Corinthians is a book of conflict. Paul was having to deal with problems in the church. But he starts the book by saying he is praying for them. He certainly gave them the correction they needed.
1 Corinthians 5:9-13(HCSB)9 I wrote to you in a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. 10 I did not mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters; otherwise you would have to leave the world. 11 But now I am writing you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer who is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person. 12 For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders? Don’t you judge those who are inside? 13 But God judges outsiders. Put away the evil person from among yourselves.

Before we can effectively deal with the problems in others, we must take care of ourselves. Matthew 7 gives an illustration that may seem silly, but it talks about human nature. The idea is that someone with a large piece of wood sticking out of their eye is criticizing another person who has a speck of dust in theirs. The one with the large piece of wood tries to ignore their own problem while dealing with the problems of others. Don’t be that person. Go to God and deal with your own faults before you try to correct others.

Matthew 7:3-5(HCSB)3 Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? 5 Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
You are accountable to God for your own actions. You cannot control what the other person does, but you can control how you respond. They too will be accountable for their actions, but not to you. They are accountable to God. God will hold you responsible for the way you act towards them. Paul admonishes us in Romans to realize that we are individually responsible for our actions and to not intentionally cause others to stumble and fall before the Lord.
Romans 14:12-23(HCSB)12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.13 Therefore, let us no longer criticize one another. Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother’s way. 14 (I know and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself. Still, to someone who considers a thing to be unclean, to that one it is unclean.) 15 For if your brother is hurt by what you eat, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy that one Christ died for by what you eat. 16 Therefore, do not let your good be slandered, 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever serves Christ in this way is acceptable to God and approved by men.19 So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another. 20 Do not tear down God’s work because of food. Everything is clean, but it is wrong for a man to cause stumbling by what he eats. 21 It is a noble thing not to eat meat, or drink wine, or do anything that makes your brother stumble. 22 Do you have a conviction? Keep it to yourself before God. The man who does not condemn himself by what he approves is blessed. 23 But whoever doubts stands condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from a conviction, and everything that is not from a conviction is sin.
Matthew 5:44-45(HCSB)44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Maybe the best way to sum this all up is to deal with people in love. Love the unsaved in such a way that they will want to know more about your God. Love them so that their arguments will melt away. Love your Christian brother in a manner that will help him see how petty his arguments with you are. Your love may bring conviction to the saved or unsaved to help them turn to God for forgiveness.
An expert in the law tried to test the Lord Jesus by asking Him to declare what was the greatest commandment in the Law of Moses. In one masterful statement, Jesus condensed the entire law that God had given Moses: Matthew 22:37–40(HCSB)37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
Notice that loving our neighbor would include sharing with the poor and the alien(illegal or legal & refugee); compassion and absolute honesty and justice in our relationships with others; impartiality; a refusal to be a party to gossip or slander; an absence of malice toward anyone and a refusal to bear a grudge; taking care never to put another’s life at risk and never taking private vengeance upon another. It is also interesting to note that when we have an issue with anyone, we should strive to make it right by going to him or her directly. James calls this the “royal law” James 2:8(HCSB)8 Indeed, if you keep the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well. Our Lord taught that we should do to others as we would have them do to us Matthew 7:12(HCSB)12 Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets.
It is a fact that anyone who does not have a personal relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ will die in his sins and face eternity in hell. Therefore, we owe it to our neighbors to lovingly share with them the good news of the gospel. True believers have been forgiven, possess eternal life, and have blessings forever as the result of others who have shared the gospel with them. God’s love is evidenced in us as we communicate this precious gospel and love others as we have been loved.

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Communion

Communion – the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level or the service of Christian worship at which bread and wine are consecrated and shared.

So, when we take Communion, it’s about who? Jesus! And you to know this ‘cause at so many churches, they either don’t take Communion, or they take it and don’t tell you what it’s about.

Jesus says, “Do this in remembrance of me,” so we do. And that when we partake, it’s not literally Jesus’ body and blood, but he is present, not so much in the elements, but in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

That’s when God’s people are filled with the Holy Spirit and they gather as God’s family, and Jesus is honored, and remembered, and celebrated, and sin is repented of, and the cross of Jesus Christ is adored, the Holy Spirit is really present with God’s people, and it’s a sacred moment for the family to honor Jesus.

It’s more than just a looking back and a memorial feast, but we’re not gonna recrucify Christ every Sunday, because in Hebrews 10:10(HCSB) 10 By this will of God, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.

”And that’s where, if you’re not a Christian, you turn from sin, trust in Jesus by faith, and you partake of Communion as an act of faith, as a demonstration of faith. And we get out of our seats and we do it together, remembering Jesus got out of his grave and one day we’ll get out of our graves, and together we’ll be with him forever.And let me say this: as God’s people take Communion, what we’re showing is, “I’m friends with Jesus and his people.” You can’t be a Christian and not connected to the church. I don’t get this. This is like a dad with five kids who adopts a kid, and that kid says, “He’s my dad, but I don’t have any siblings and I’m not part of the family.” It’s all together. God’s a Father, adopts you, you’re now part of a family. You got brothers and sisters. I don’t get this solo, independent, me and Jesus has our own thing,rebelling Christianity. It doesn’t make sense. The Bible knows nothing of it. If you’re connected to God, you’re connected to his people.

And when we partake in Communion in service or in homes together, what we’re doing is we’re doing it together saying, “I’m friends with Jesus, and I’m friends with you, and I’m part of the family.” And this happened in early Christianity. It says in Acts 2:42-47(HCSB)42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.43 Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved. When the Christians started gathering, they would meet from the temple courts, big meetings like we do for services, and from house to house.

“And to the,” what? “Breaking of bread, having meals together and praying.” I’ll tell you the easiest way to build a friendship with somebody: have a meal and pray together. Eat together, pray together. Like, let’s say you’re married, you’re not getting along. Eat together, pray together, your friendship will grow because God always blesses those kinds of connecting moments. You’re struggling with your friends, try to resolve it over a meal. Start it, end it, bathe it in prayer. That’s how things get worked out relationally.

Some of people are partaking in an unworthy manner. You’re in open rebellion and sin.

Here’s a scary word of caution: there’s a church in Corinth. It’s not a great church. They’re getting drunk, they’re suing each other, they’re sleeping together, they’re hiring prostitutes. One guy’s sleeping with his mother or mother-in-law. Now days we call it pluralism, diversity, openness, tolerance, we parades in honor of it, a magazine, a website, a whole Facebook group, and, t-shirts. God was very unhappy, and he said, “You’re not repenting. You’re claiming to love me and then you’re disobeying everything I say. You’re a bunch of rebellious, spoiled bratty kids.”

So then, through Paul, God speaks to them, and here’s what he says about Communion: 1 Corinthians 11:27-32(HCSB)27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 So a man should examine himself; in this way he should eat the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 This is why many are sick and ill among you, and many have fallen asleep. 31 If we were properly evaluating ourselves, we would not be judged, 32 but when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord, so that we may not be condemned with the world. “Therefore,whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way.” So, let me say this: there’s a worthy and an unworthy way. In our day of pluralism, tolerance, diversity, it’s, “Oh, no, no, we’re all—” Nope. There’s worthy and unworthy. There’s right and wrong. There’s obedient and disobedient. There’s qualified and disqualified. God’s grace doesn’t just forgive our sin. God’s grace empowers us to put our sin to death because Jesus died for it.

“Will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. So a man should examine himself; in this way he should eat the bread and drink from the cup” Here’s what he’s saying. Some of you will say this: “You can’t judge me!” Then judge yourself. If you judge yourself, then no one else will have to judge you. You will see your own sin & rebellion. You’ll come clean with God and his people. You’ll say, “You know what? I got a problem. I need help. I need God’s grace and God’s people to help me fix my sin.” That’s humility, it’s integrity, it’s honesty, so that you don’t have to partake in a way that is unworthy.

Before you take Communion, do you examine yourself? Do you examine your life? Do you consider your sin? Do you take a moment and ask, “Holy Spirit, your job is to convict me of sin. Let me know anything that’s amiss, and I want to get this right and I’m sorry. If there’s anybody here I need to reconcile with, let me go apologize. Is there anything that would keep me from partaking in a worthy manner?”

A study of the Lord’s Supper is a soul-stirring experience because of the depth of meaning it contains. It was during the age-old celebration of the Passover on the eve of His death that Jesus instituted a significant new fellowship meal that we observe to this day. It is an integral part of Christian worship. It causes us to remember our Lord’s death and resurrection and to look for His glorious return in the future.

The Passover was the most sacred feast of the Jewish religious year. It commemorated the final plague on Egypt when the firstborn of the Egyptians died and the Israelites were spared because of the blood of a lamb that was sprinkled on their doorposts. The lamb was then roasted and eaten with unleavened bread. God’s command was that throughout the generations to come the feast would be celebrated. The story is recorded in Exodus 12.

During the Last Supper—a Passover celebration—Jesus took a loaf of bread and gave thanks to God. As He broke it and gave it to His disciples, He said, “’This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’” Luke 22:19-21(HCSB)19 And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”20 In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you. 21 But look, the hand of the one betraying Me is at the table with Me!. He concluded the feast by singing some psalms Matthew 26:30(HCSB)30 After singing psalms, they went out to the Mount of Olives. It was there that Jesus was betrayed, as predicted, by Judas. The following day He was crucified.

The church is a family, a community of imperfect people on a spiritual journey together to become more like Christ and less like our old selves. When you get a bunch of people who are imperfect together trying to live a new life, sometimes sparks fly, people get upset, offended, and feelings get hurt.

Colossians 3:12-17(HCSB)12 Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. 14 Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. 16 Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

The bible is a mirror not a microscope, we are to read it and see our faults and change to be like Christ. Not to use to pass judgement on each other.

James 1:22-25(HCSB)22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works—this person will be blessed in what he does.

WHEN WE LOOK INTO THE MIRROR OF GOD’S WORD, WHAT DO WE SEE?

1. We see our flaws. We see that we are sinners.

2. We also see that Jesus Christ died for our sins so we can now be sons and daughters of the Most High God!

3. We see that by believing in Jesus Christ, we can be

changed forever.

2 Corinthians 3:18(HCSB)17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.

The first point is that the central requirement of love in the church community is both a gift and a command. Our life together originates in the covenant love of God and so one essential mark of our covenant relationships in church is love. And this love is the work of God.

This means that a church community is a bunch of imperfect people on a spiritual journey together. We have been saved from condemnation and transferred from death to life and from darkness to light but in this new relation to God we are not yet perfected or completed, but are on the way to becoming what we should be.

The first commitment of the our church community is love. In a sense all else is an unfolding of that. And the commitment of love and holiness is not a static one, because none of us has arrived, but a commitment to strive forward,advance,promote and sustain holiness.

Luke 22:14-20(HCSB) 14 When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.

Jesus constantly promoted community among His disciples. He enjoyed being with them.Jesus had fervent desire to eat with His disciples, FERVENT –  very hot glowing exhibiting or marked by great intensity of feeling, Passionate
DESIRE – a longing or craving, as for something that brings satisfaction or enjoyment:

Communion is common unity, common Union. Communion it literally means intimacy. It is the divine remembrance of the life of a holy God invested into the heart of a people to transform the way the did life in front of a culture of people.

Luke 22:19(HCSB)19 And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

Jesus said to do this before He went to the cross, He could’ve waited till after the resurrection because He ate with men after He was resurrected. So if he just wanted them to remember the cross, He would’ve done it after the resurrection and said now do this in remembrance of me. Why did He do it before? Because Jesus didn’t come just to save us from hell. He came to give us permission to gain back what Adam forfeited in the garden. Jesus restored what Adam failed in. FELLOWSHIP with the father. Now instead of the ritualistic slaughter of animals that they had to do in the temple. It is his blood that let’s us into the holy of holies to talk with our father. He didn’t come as fire insurance He came to show us we can live a life free from the bondage of sin and conquer the flesh by a desire and have a hunger to go after God. He conquered temptation everyday and He said when you eat this remember that. Remember that your not at the mercy of your enemy anymore, remember I defeated him at the cross, I defeated him when I snatched the keys of death and the grave. I defeated him with I sit at the right hand of the father forever making intercession for you. Remember your not at the mercy of your flesh anymore, because for 33 years I lived not subject to the desires of my flesh I conquered the desires of the flesh and did not give into temptation. Do this in remembrance of me. And your going to remember that you are what you eat.

Jesus is showing us that we can come together as a company of people who can come together from all different points of life, different stages of our walk, different races and economic backgrounds because we can walk together in common union. Because we are now part of the family. Romans 8:14-16(HCSB)14 All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children,

1 Corinthians 10:16(HCSB) The cup of blessing that we give thanks for, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? 

The idea of community denotes a “common unity” of purpose and interests. By engaging in this united relationship a new level of consciousness and conscience emerges that spurs the group to higher order thinking and action, thus empowering and encouraging its members to exist in a mutually beneficial relationship. Thus community and family become closely intertwined, because aiming at a common unity strives to overcome brokenness, divisiveness, and, ultimately gaining wholeness with each of the members, with their environment, and with God. By giving mutual support, friendship and family merge. Both fellowship and community imply an inner and outer unity.

Don’t let this become a glorified hand washing station, but let us come together as a people who worship, praise and do life together as Jesus did with His disciples. We look at each other’s as brothers and sisters, fathers, mothers, our kids look at the older people as aunts and uncles. It not just something we do on Sunday’s but something we do everyday and our lives start being intertwined. Some of us don’t want that but those that do will ask “how can we get more deeply rooted in Him?” How can we get more passionate about Jesus?” What can we get rid of in our lives to make more room for Him? Jesus lived His life in front of His disciples that caused them to live in such a way that we are still reading and talking about it today. Colossians 3:1-4(HCSB)So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

So we can stay in our home and scream at the darkness or we can go out and shine His light.

2 Peter 1:4 (HCSB)By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.

Galatians 5:16-17 (HCSB)I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want.

The question is not rather or not is it right or wrong but does it generate a hunger or thirst for the things of the spirit.

If you don’t want it to live quit feeding it. If you quit eating it long enough you will stop craving it. If you don’t want time with Jesus it’s an indicator that you haven’t spent time with him to perpetuate the cravings in your spirit for more of Him. Hunger is not a gift but a choice. If you see someone with a supernatural hunger for God it’s because they chose to eat those things of the spirit and starve the flesh.

We start looking for liberties, it’s not sin but it’s not healthy for the spirit. Some music out there is not sinful but it will not generate the appetite inside of you to successfully feed your spirit.

It’s not sin to listen to it and it’s not legalism to not listen, it’s liberty to let the appetite of the spirit dictate what you are ingesting.

The question for me is not is this sin or not anymore, I moved on from that , I grew. The question now for me is, will it feed my spirit? Will it bring the spiritual nourishment I need for my spirit or will it feed my flesh? Can I watch that? Sure but will I grow spiritually from it?

Will it make me hungrier for Him? Or will it generate a hunger, a craving for things that I don’t want to be hungry for anymore?

The more we eat Him. The more we will produce his nature naturally. We will start responding to people differently.

Do you know why stray cats and dogs hang around? Because you feed it. Lust hangs around because you feed it. You can’t say you can’t get rid of lust when you keep going to those sites, looking at women, etc.

You must have an appetite for one meal. The meal of the spirit.

The idea of community denotes a “common unity” of purpose and interests. Thus community and family become closely intertwined, because aiming at a common unity strives to overcome brokenness, divisiveness, and, ultimately gaining wholeness with each of the members, with their environment, and with God. By giving mutual support, friendship and family merge. Both fellowship and community imply an inner and outer unity.

This church will never become a glorified hand washing station,or a museum for saints, or a country club that doesn’t welcome sinners but let us come together as a people who worship, praise and do life together as Jesus did with His disciples. Let us not point the finger at our brother’s and sister’s and their faults but let us forgive quickly, love plentifully and help joyfully. We look at each other’s as brothers and sisters, fathers, mothers, our kids look at the older people as aunts and uncles. It not just something we do on Sunday’s but something we do everyday and our lives start being intertwined. Some of us don’t want that but those that do will ask “how can we get more deeply rooted in Him?” How can we get more passionate about Jesus?” What can we get rid of in our lives to make more room for Him? Jesus lived His life in front of His disciples that caused them to live in such a way that we are still reading and talking about it today. Colossians 3:1-4(HCSB)So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

Free Will

Man has free will in that he is a free moral agent and makes real choices that will have very real consequences, but he is limited by his fallen nature. God desires from man a worship that comes not ultimately from compulsion, but from love and desire. Man’s will is never coerced by God James 1:13-15(HCSB)13 No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone. 14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. It always flows from his spiritual nature and the desires of his heart. But in his fallen state man cannot discern spiritual things, please God, or trust in Christ Romans 8:7(HCSB)7 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so.,

1 Corinthians 2:14(HCSB)14 But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually. Man is free to will what he most desires, but, until born again, his heart is in bondage to sin. Furthermore, his will is ultimately subordinate to the providence and sovereignty of God. This may be regarded as a “compatibilist” view of free will which sees man’s free choices as compatible with God’s absolute sovereignty. As Augustine put it, “the human will does not obtain grace by freedom, but obtains freedom by grace,”

If “free will” means that God gives humans the opportunity to make choices that genuinely affect their destiny, then yes, human beings do have a free will. The world’s current sinful state is directly linked to choices made by Adam and Eve. God created mankind in His own image, and that included the ability to choose.

However, free will does not mean that mankind can do anything he pleases. Our choices are limited to what is in keeping with our nature. For example, a man may choose to walk across a bridge or not to walk across it; what he may not choose is to fly over the bridge—his nature prevents him from flying. In a similar way, a man cannot choose to make himself righteous—his (sin) nature prevents him from canceling his guilt Romans 3:23(HCSB)23 For all have sinned and fall short of the[a] glory of God. So, free will is limited by nature.

This limitation does not mitigate our accountability. The Bible is clear that we not only have the ability to choose, we also have the responsibility to choose wisely. In the Old Testament, God chose a nation (Israel), but individuals within that nation still bore an obligation to choose obedience to God. And individuals outside of Israel were able to choose to believe and follow God as well (e.g., Ruth and Rahab).

In the New Testament, sinners are commanded over and over to “repent” and “believe” Matthew 3:2(HCSB)2 and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!”;
Matthew 4:17(HCSB)17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!”;

Acts 3:19(HCSB)19 Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord

1 John 3:23(HCSB)23 Now this is His command: that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as He commanded us.

Every call to repent is a call to choose. The command to believe assumes that the hearer can choose to obey the command.

Jesus identified the problem of some unbelievers when He told them,
John 5:40(HCSB)40 And you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.. Clearly, they could have come if they wanted to; their problem was they chose not to. Those who are outside of salvation are “without excuse” Romans 1:20-21(HCSB)20 For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. 21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened.

But how can man, limited by a sin nature, ever choose what is good? It is only through the grace and power of God that free will truly becomes “free” in the sense of being able to choose salvation John 15:16(HCSB)16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. It is the Holy Spirit who works in and through a person’s will to regenerate that person (John 1:12-13) and give him/her a new nature “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” Ephesians 4:24(HCSB)24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.. Salvation is God’s work. At the same time, our motives, desires, and actions are voluntary, and we are rightly held responsible for them.

Free will is the ability to make choices according to your desire. Free will is of two theological viewpoints: Compatibilist and Libertarian. Compatibilism is the position that a person is only as free as his nature permits him to be free and that his sinfulness prevents him from freely choosing God

1 Corinthians 2:14(HCSB)14 But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.
Romans 3:10-12(HCSB)10 as it is written:There is no one righteous, not even one.11 There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away;all alike have become useless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one.,
Romans 6:14-20(HCSB)14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! 16 Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone[a] as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were transferred to, 18 and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. 19 I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from allegiance to righteousness.

Here is where compatibilism makes the distinction between man having a free will and being a “free agent.” Man is “free” to choose that which is determined by his nature or by the laws of nature. To illustrate, the laws of nature prohibit man from being able to fly, but this does not mean that man is not free. The agent, man, is only free to do that which his nature or the laws of nature allow him to do. Romans 8:7-8(HCSB)For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Theologically speaking, though the natural man is unable to submit himself to the law of God and unable to come to Christ unless the Father draws him to Him freely in respect to his nature, the natural man still acts. John 6:44(HCSB)44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.,
Romans 1:18(HCSB)18 For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, He freely and actively suppresses the truth in unrighteousness  because his nature renders him unable to do otherwise;

Psalm 14:1-3(HCSB)The fool says in his heart, “God does not exist.” They are corrupt; they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good. 2  The Lord looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks God. 3  All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one; Romans 3:10-11(HCSB)10 as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one. 11 There is no one who understands;there is no one who seeks God.

Two good examples of Jesus’ confirmation of this concept can be found in Matthew 7:16-27 and Matthew 12:34-37.

With the distinction between free agency and free will defined, compatibilism then addresses the nature of the free agency of man in respect to the theological proposition known as determinism and/or the biblical truth of the omniscient nature of God. The foundational issue is how man can be held accountable for his actions if his actions were always going to occur (i.e., the future is not subject to change) and could not have been anything other than that which occurred. Although there are numerous passages of Scripture that address this issue we will look at one passage of Scripture that speaks of compatibilism is found in Acts 4:23-28(HCSB)23 After they were released, they went to their own people and reported everything the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they all raised their voices to God and said, “Master, You are the One who made the heaven, the earth, and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You said through the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father David Your servant: Why did the Gentiles rage and the peoples plot futile things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand and the rulers assembled together against the Lord and against His Messiah. 27 “For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place.

As revealed in Christ’s death on the cross was carried out by the “predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God.” Acts 2:23-25(HCSB)23 Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him. 24 God raised Him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. 25 For David says of Him: I saw the Lord ever before me; because He is at my right hand,I will not be shaken.

Acts 4:27-28(HCSB)27 “For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place. This passage further reveals that the actions of Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel had been determined and decreed by God Himself to occur as they “gathered together against” Jesus and did “what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.” Although God had determined that Christ should die, those responsible for His death were still held accountable for their actions. Christ was put to death by wicked men, “yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer” Isaiah 53:10(HCSB)Yet the Lord was pleased to crush Him severely. When You make Him a restitution offering, He will see His seed, He will prolong His days, and by His hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished. Once again, the answer to the question “who put Jesus to death?” is both God and the wicked people—two purposes carried out by two entities within a single action.

Another view of Free Will is called Libertarian Free Will.

Libertarian free will is the position that an unsaved sinner is still able to freely choose God in spite of his sinful nature.
John 3:16(HCSB)16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life,

John 3:36(HCSB)36 The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.

Libertarian free will is basically the concept that, metaphysically and morally, man is an autonomous being, one who operates independently, not controlled by others or by outside forces. The word “autonomous” is key in understanding libertarian free will. The word basically means “self-government.” It is derived from two Greek words, autos and nomos, which mean “a law unto oneself.” This is libertarian free will in a nutshell. We, as free moral agents, can make our own decisions and are not subject to the will or determination of another.

The first thing to take into account regarding the biblical position of libertarian free will is what the Bible says about God. The Bible describes God as sovereign, and sovereignty designates control. But what exactly is the sphere of God’s sovereignty? Psalm 24:1(HCSB) makes it plain: The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord. What is the sphere of God’s sovereignty? Everything. God spoke the universe, and everything in it, into existence. As Creator, He has sovereignty over His creation. This is the image used in the book of Romans  in Chapter 9 when Paul refers to the potter and his clay. Romans 9:14-24 (HCSB)14 What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not! 15 For He tells Moses: I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture tells Pharaoh: I raised you up for this reason so that I may display My power in you and that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth. 18 So then, He shows mercy to those He wants to, and He hardens those He wants to harden. 19 You will say to me, therefore, “Why then does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?” 20 But who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” 21 Or has the potter no right over the clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor? 22 And what if God, desiring to display His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath ready for destruction? 23 And what if He did this to make known the riches of His glory on objects of mercy that He prepared beforehand for glory— 24 on us, the ones He also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

So we need to ask ourselves how does libertarian free will fit in with God’s sovereignty? Can a human being, a creature, be autonomous if God is sovereign? The obvious conclusion is that libertarian free will is incompatible with the sovereignty of God. Consider this passage from the book of Proverbs: Proverbs 16:9(HCSB)A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps. This does not paint a picture of man as an autonomous being, but rather as man operating within the confines of a sovereign God.

Man is not a “law unto himself.” Man is a creature in the Creator’s universe, and as such is subject to the will of the Creator. To suggest otherwise is to elevate man beyond his station and to bring God down to the level of the creature. Those who advocate libertarian free will may not come out and say this, but logically speaking, this is the conclusion that must be drawn. Consider a popular evangelistic slogan found in Christian gospel tracts: “God casts his vote for you, Satan casts his vote against you, but you have the deciding vote.” Is this how it works in salvation? Is God just one side of a cosmic struggle with Satan for the souls of men, who must resort to ”campaign tactics” to sway voters to heaven? This view of God is an emasculated God who is desperately hoping mankind utilizes his free will to choose Him. Frankly, but this is a somewhat pathetic view of God. If God wills to save someone, that person will be saved because God accomplishes all His purposes.

There are two keys to understanding human will and how it relates to God’s sovereignty. The first is the fall. Prior to the fall, man could be said to have had a “free” will in that he was free to obey God or disobey God. After the fall, man’s will was corrupted by sin to the point where he fully lost the ability to willingly obey God. This doesn’t mean that man can’t outwardly obey God. Rather, man cannot perform any spiritual good that is acceptable to God or has any merit for salvtion. The Bible describes man’s will as “dead in transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1-5(HCSB) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!
We were also “slaves to sin”.
Romans 6:17-18(HCSB)17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were transferred to, 18 and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.. These phrases describe man as both unable and unwilling to submit to God’s sovereign authority; therefore, when man makes choices according to his desires, we must remember that man’s desires are depraved and corrupted and totally rebellious toward God.

The second key in harmonizing man’s “free” will with God’s sovereignty is how God accomplishes His desires. When God ordains all things that come to pass Psalm 33:11(HCSB)The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.

Ephesians 1:11(HCSB)11 We have also received an inheritance in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will, He not only ordains the ends, but the means as well. God ordains that certain things will happen and He also ordains how they will happen. Human choices are one of the means by which God accomplishes His will. For proof of this point, look no further than the exodus. God tells Moses that He will harden Pharaoh’s heart so that God’s glory in the deliverance of Israel would be manifest through him

Exodus 4:21(HCSB)21 The Lord instructed Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, make sure you do all the wonders before Pharaoh that I have put within your power. But I will harden his heart so that he won’t let the people go. However, as the narrative continues, we see that Pharaoh hardens his own heart  Exodus 8:15(HCSB)15 But when Pharaoh saw there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord had said. We see God’s will and man’s will come together.

Now, we must be careful not to swing to the (equally) unbiblical view that God is the divine Puppet Master and we are merely His puppets. This is the view of hard determinism in which man is reduced to an automaton making robotic responses to situations. The Bible presents a third option between hard determinism and libertarian free will, and that is the view called compatibilism, or soft determinism. In this view, man makes real choices and will be held responsible by God for those choices. The choices that man makes stem from his desires. God grants the creature a certain amount of freedom, but that freedom always operates within the boundaries of God’s sovereignty.

The Sovereignty of God is the biblical teaching that all things are under God’s rule and control, and that nothing happens without His direction or permission. God works not just some things but all things according to the counsel of His own will Ephesians 1:11(HCSB)11 We have also received an inheritance in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will,. His purposes are all-inclusive and never thwarted nothing takes Him by surprise.
Isaiah 46:11(HCSB)I call a bird of prey from the east, a man for My purpose from a far country. Yes, I have spoken; so I will also bring it about. I have planned it; I will also do it.; The sovereignty of God is not merely that God has the power and right to govern all things, but that He does so, always and without exception. In other words, God is not merely sovereign de jure (in principle), but sovereign de facto (in practice).

God’s sovereignty in salvation means that He saves whom He will, and those whom He saves owe nothing to anything in or of themselves. They are saved because God graciously chose them in eternity and regenerated and called them in history. They cannot even take credit for their faith because it is the gift that He Himself sovereignly bestows.

God’s predestination does not mean that we cannot make free will choices. God predestines in and through our choices because God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He knows what we will do because He knows all things. He cannot not know all things. So, whatever you choose to do out of your own free volition is known. But His knowing doesn’t mean you don’t freely choose.

An illustration would be that I could arrange for my child to choose ice cream over something else and not violate his free will. For instance, I could put a bowl of chocolate ice cream and a bowl of poop in front of my child, and I know exactly which one the child will choose to eat. But my knowing does not violate my child’s free will. He has free will and freedom to act, but I will plan to give him ice cream because I know my son. I do not need to use coercion, I know he will make that choice because I know my son.

It seems to me to be saying that you have complete freedom to act, but God knows all ends. You have freely chosen to walk through the door; but it was always known that you would (because God is God).

Drownning Egyptians through Baptism

Communion and baptism are two things that were meant to be spiritual and we made them religious. We tell people what to do, but we don’t tell them why. Then it becomes religious. Baptism is one of the primary ways we connect to the cross. It’s not about getting dunked in water, its about connecting to the cross. We have to get out of Ritual and into Sacrament, out of religious duty and into a spiritual experience. Baptism is not about a religious duty its about a spiritual experience. There is something spiritual that happens at baptism, there is a death burial and resurrection that happens that connects us with what happened at the cross and the tomb of Jesus. There is something about our born again life that is incomplete until baptism.

Romans 6:4 (HCSB) Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection.

Water baptism it is not an entrance into Christianity. The fact that baptism is not a prerequisite for salvation is best seen in the example of a saved man who was not baptized in water, the thief on the cross

Luke 23:39-43(HCSB)39 Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at Him: “Aren’t You the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!”

40 But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? 41 We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”43 And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.”

This self-confessed sinner came to acknowledge Jesus as his Lord while dying on a cross next to Him, and he asked for salvation and was forgiven of his sins. Although he never experienced water baptism, at that moment he was baptized into Christ’s death, and he then was raised to life by the power of Christ’s word.

Instead we are baptized because our Lord commanded it and because we obey Him. Matthew 28:19(HCSB)“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”.

There are some cults that say you have to baptize in the name of Jesus only for salvation. And that baptism must be by immersion using the formula, “in Jesus name,” and not the formula, “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” as is found in Matthew 28:19(HCSB)19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,. They reject the Trinitarian formula because they reject the Trinity. To support their method, they cite various Bible verses that reference baptizing in Jesus’ name and claim that this is proof for their doctrine. Following are some of the Bible references they quote.

Acts 2:38 (HCSB)38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 8:16(HCSB)16 For He had not yet come down on any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Acts 10:48(HCSB)48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay for a few days.

Let’s take a look at what is going on in the verses. The phrase, “in the name of the Lord,” is not a reference to a baptismal formula but a reference to authority. It is similar to hearing someone say, “Stop in the name of the Law!” We understand that the “name of the Law” means by the authority of the Law. It is the same with baptism “in Jesus’ name.” To baptize in Jesus’ name is to baptize in the authority of Jesus. Consider the following:

Acts 4:17-18(HCSB)17 However, so this does not spread any further among the people, let’s threaten them against speaking to anyone in this name again.” 18 So they called for them and ordered them not to preach or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

Acts 5:40(HCSB)40 After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them.

Acts 8:12(HCSB)12 But when they believed Philip, as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.

Acts 9:27-28(HCSB)27 Barnabas, however, took him and brought him to the apostles and explained to them how Saul had seen the Lord on the road and that He had talked to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 Saul was coming and going with them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.

Let’s take a look at what is going on in the verses. The phrase, “in the name of the Lord,” is not a reference to a baptismal formula but a reference to authority. It is similar to hearing someone say, “Stop in the name of the Law!” We understand that the “name of the Law” means by the authority of the Law. It is the same with baptism “in Jesus’ name.” To baptize in Jesus’ name is to baptize in the authority of Jesus.

We can see that the phrase is used in the Bible as an expression of authority. This is particularly clarified in
Acts 16:18(HCSB)18 And she did this for many days.

But Paul was greatly aggravated and turning to the spirit, said, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out right away.

We also see that when people were being baptized, they did it calling on Jesus’ name Acts 22:16(HCSB)16 And now, why delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins by calling on His name.’, that is, they were calling upon Jesus who has all authority in heaven and earth

Matthew 28:18(HCSB)18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. The church is supposed to “call upon the name of the Lord Jesus”

1 Corinthians 1:2(HCSB)To God’s church at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called as saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord—both their Lord and ours. because it is by His authority John 1:12(HCSB)But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, that we Christians have the hope and right of forgiveness of sins and adoption as His children Romans 8:15(HCSB)15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”

The proper way to baptize in Jesus’ name is to say, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Moses was commissioned by God to be the deliverer of His people. He went before Pharaoh and requested the people to be let go so they may worship the Lord. Exodus 5:1(HCSB)Later, Moses and Aaron went in and said to Pharaoh, “This is what Yahweh, the God of Israel, says: Let My people go, so that they may hold a festival for Me in the wilderness.”

Pharaoh refused (“he hardened his heart”) and began to oppress the people of Israel even more. Exodus 7:2-4(HCSB) You must say whatever I command you; then Aaron your brother must declare it to Pharaoh so that he will let the Israelites go from his land. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and multiply My signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you, but I will put My hand on Egypt and bring the divisions of My people the Israelites out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment.Then began the cycle of the ten plagues. Moses requested that Pharaoh release his people, Pharaoh refused, God sent a plague, Pharaoh “repented,” and God removed the plague. After the final plague (the death of the firstborn), Pharaoh finally agreed to let the children of Israel go. Exodus 12:30-32(HCSB)30 During the night Pharaoh got up, he along with all his officials and all the Egyptians, and there was a loud wailing throughout Egypt because there wasn’t a house without someone dead. 31 He summoned Moses and Aaron during the night and said, “Get up, leave my people, both you and the Israelites, and go, worship Yahweh as you have asked. 32 Take even your flocks and your herds as you asked and leave, and also bless me.” But then he had another change of heart and chased after them with his army. Exodus 14:5-8(HCSB)5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about the people and said: “What have we done? We have released Israel from serving us.” 6 So he got his chariot ready and took his troops with him; 7 he took 600 of the best chariots and all the rest of the chariots of Egypt, with officers in each one. 8 The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the Israelites, who were going out triumphantly.That’s when the great scene of deliverance occurred as God parted the Red Sea, allowing the children of Israel to pass through safely, but drowning Pharaoh and his army under the sea.Exodus 14:21-31(HCSB)21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back with a powerful east wind all that night and turned the sea into dry land. So the waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with the waters like a wall to them on their right and their left.

23 The Egyptians set out in pursuit—all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen—and went into the sea after them. 24 Then during the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the Egyptian forces from the pillar of fire and cloud, and threw them into confusion. 25 He caused their chariot wheels to swerve and made them drive with difficulty. “Let’s get away from Israel,” the Egyptians said, “because Yahweh is fighting for them against Egypt!”

26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may come back on the Egyptians, on their chariots and horsemen.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea returned to its normal depth. While the Egyptians were trying to escape from it, the Lord threw them into the sea. 28 The waters came back and covered the chariots and horsemen, the entire army of Pharaoh, that had gone after them into the sea. None of them survived.

29 But the Israelites had walked through the sea on dry ground, with the waters like a wall to them on their right and their left. 30 That day the Lord saved Israel from the power of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 When Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and believed in Him and in His servant Moses.

The exodus from Egypt, though a real, historical event, prefigures the saving work of Christ for His people. What God did through Moses was to provide physical salvation from physical slavery. What God does through Christ is provide spiritual salvation from a spiritual slavery. However, our slavery isn’t like that of the Israelites in Egypt. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt, but we are all slaves to sin. As Jesus said to the Pharisees,
John 8:34-36(HCSB)34 Jesus responded, “I assure you: Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. 36 Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.

Pharaoh let the Israelites go and gave them all the riches of Egypt, then he had a change of heart and sent his choice warriors in their best chariots after them.

The Israelites were being chased by the Egyptians until they came to the red sea. How many of you have your past chasing you?

The Egyptians were drowned in the sea after the Israelites made it to the other side after they came out, Egypt means bondage!

We need to drown some Egyptians here today!!

When you go into the water you leave those bondages in there you come up free from those bondages.

Romans 6:6-7(HCSB) For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims.

Romans 6:4 (ESV)“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life”

So the parting of the Red Sea not only finalized God’s redemption of His people from slavery in Egypt, but it also prefigured the greater spiritual reality of God’s redemption of His people from slavery to sin through the work of Christ.

Before we are baptized we must come to believe that we are sinners in need of salvation Romans 3:23 (HCSB) For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We must also believe that Christ died on the cross to atone for our sins, that He was buried, and that He was resurrected to assure our place in heaven 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (HCSB) Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. 2 You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed for no purpose. 3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4 that He was buried,that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

We then turn to Jesus, asking Him to forgive our sins and to be our Lord and Savior, and the moment we do that we are born again, our eternal salvation is guaranteed, and we begin to die to ourselves and live for Christ.

1 Peter 1:3-5 (HCSB)3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. 5 You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  At this time we are qualified to be scripturally baptized.

At the baptismal, we let ourselves be completely immersed in the water. This is the burial with our Lord; we are baptized into His death on the cross and are no longer slaves to self or sin. Romans 6:3-7(HCSB)3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims. When we are raised out of the water, we are resurrected—raised to our new life in Christ and to be with Him forever, born into the family of our loving God.

Romans 6:8-11(HCSB) Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, 9 because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in light of the fact that He lives, He lives to God. 11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Christians have been commanded to be baptized, and we should do so out of obedience to, and love for, our Lord Christ Jesus John 14:15 (HCSB)15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.

Living a Spirit Filled Life

The key to rightly living the Christian life is being controlled by the Holy Spirit, who provides energy for walking “worthy of the calling with which you have received”

Ephesians 4:1-6 (HCSB)Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, 3 diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Unless you are controlled by the Spirit of God, you can never walk in humility, love, unity, light, and wisdom. The life of God in the soul of man is the only way anyone can live a righteous life. To walk without the Spirit is to walk without wisdom

Ephesians 5:15-17(HCSB)15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

The filling or controlling of the Holy Spirit is a profound reality in the believer’s life, and understanding it can change your life. So let’s look at what it means to be filled with the Spirit?

Ephesians 5:18(HCSB)18 And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit:

First, this phrase is not commanding empty Christians to acquire something they don’t already have. Each of us possesses the entire Holy Spirit from the time we repent and believe: Romans 8:9-11(HCSB)9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.

Second, Paul’s phrase is not equating fullness of the Spirit with baptism with the Spirit. Holy Spirit baptism is not an extra experience you need to seek; it is something you have from the moment you are saved. This baptism is a theological reality, an act by which Jesus Christ through the agency of the Spirit places you into the Body of Christ.

When we use the word fill in English we normally think of something being placed into a container such as milk being poured into a glass, water being run into a bath tub, or gasoline being pumped into a gas tank. But none of those examples conveys precisely the meaning of to fill or be filled as does the Greek pleroo, a form of which is used in Ephesians 5:18 .

A directly parallel passage to Ephesians 5:18 is Colossians 3:16(HCSB)16 Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. This text explains in a slightly different way the meaning of the command “be filled with the Spirit.” The Apostle Paul says, “Let the message of Christ richly dwell among you.” One can be filled with the Spirit only when controlled by the Word. It is knowing truth and obeying it.

Through Jesus, the old covenant was fulfilled and the new covenant of grace began and Christ now mediates on our behalf. Although the temple was completely destroyed in A.D. 70 by Roman soldiers who occupied Jerusalem, God’s Spirit departed the sanctuary nearly 40 years earlier during Christ’s crucifixion. Matthew records this extraordinary event in his rendering of the gospel of Christ: Matthew 27:50-51(HCSB)50 Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. 51 Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split.

The curtain that separated the inner sanctuary from the rest of the temple was torn in half at the moment Christ died. At this point in time, the Spirit of God left the inner sanctuary of the temple and He never returned. So where did the Spirit of God go after departing the temple? Paul answers this question in his first epistle to Corinth: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20(HCSB)19 Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 3:16(HCSB)16 Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you?

Romans 8:11(HCSB)11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.

Acts 1:8(HCSB)But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The Spirit departed the temple in Jerusalem and now makes His home in the hearts of those who believe in Jesus Christ. This is what is known as the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” and signifies our adoption into God’s family:

Romans 8:15(HCSB)15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”

1 John4:13(HCSB) This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given assurance to us from His Spirit.  When a person becomes a Christian, a new creation begins. 2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.God’s people once worshiped in a temple made by human hands, but now worship directly through communion with the Holy Spirit: John 4:23(HCSB) 23 But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him.

These verses are telling us that the believer in Jesus Christ has the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, living in him. When an individual accepts Christ as personal Savior, the Holy Spirit gives the believer the life of God, eternal life, which is really His very nature and the Holy Spirit comes to live within him spiritually. Titus 3:5(HCSB)He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done,but according to His mercy,through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:4(HCSB)4 By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires., The fact that the believer’s body is likened to a temple where the Holy Spirit lives helps us understand what the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is all about.

Living a holy life that both personally satisfying and holy may seem like an impossible task for us to fulfill. Indeed, if we attempted to do so by our own strength we would undoubtedly fail. God does not expect us to do it by our own power and might. The reason He sent His Spirit into our hearts is so we could live the life He desires for us to live. We need the Spirit’s help so we can overcome the weaknesses born of the flesh.

What a great comfort this is for those who struggle with our day to day lives, or with an addiction. It is not a battle the Christian faces alone. God has given us the power through the Holy Spirit to overcome this foe. The Spirit searches our hearts and intercedes before the Father on our behalf. Do not underestimate this gift you have been given. The Holy Spirit is a mighty weapon that you can rely upon in overcoming great adversity. He is working in and through you to help you in the sanctification process:
Sanctification, or in its verbal form, sanctify, literally means “to set apart” for special use or purpose, that is, to make holy or sacred. Therefore, sanctification refers to the state or process of being set apart, i.e. made holy.
Sanctification is the process of being set apart for God’s work and being conformed to the image of Christ.  This conforming to Christ involves the work of the person, but it is still God working in the believer to produce more of a godly character and life in the person who has already been justified. Philippians 2:13(HCSB) For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose. Sanctification is not instantaneous because it is not the work of God alone.  The justified person is actively involved in submitting to God’s will, resisting sin, seeking holiness, and working to be more godly. Galatians 2:22(HCSB) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Significantly, sanctification has no bearing on justification.  That is, even if we don’t live a perfect life(because we can’t), we are still justified.

Where justification is a legal declaration that is instantaneous, sanctification is a process.  Where justification comes from outside of us, from God, sanctification comes from God within us by the work of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the Bible.

Seek the wisdom and power of the  Spirit which is a treasure beyond anything this world can possibly offer and is a source of great power and strength. If you are in the midst of a battle, you may feel like giving up because you think this enemy is too great to overcome. You can overcome sin and addiction through God’s power if you have faith. Understand and recognize that it is when you are at your weakest point that God is strong. His power is made perfect in your weakness: 2 Corinthians 12:9 (HCSB)9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.

It is hard to imagine that we can boast about our weaknesses, but Paul had a different perspective, as the above Scripture reveals, than many of us have today. He discovered that God’s power was greater than the many struggles he personally encountered. For Paul, he understood that God’s grace was sufficient in every situation and he experienced great joy; even in times of relentless struggle. And you can experience the same happiness in your life as you lean on God in your time of need.

In order to do so, you will have to live “by the Spirit” of God rather than seeking to satisfy earthly passions and desires. This is not always easy since our sin nature desires what is contrary to God’s moral law. Fortunately, we have been crucified with Christ and can now walk in righteousness: Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:24, 25) How do we “keep in step” with the Spirit? We must offer our bodies as living sacrifices holy and blameless. Romans 12:1(HCSB)Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer 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. 

This undoubtedly requires tremendous effort and patience. It does not come naturally which is why Paul has to tell us to do it! However, as we renew our minds with God’s truth and reject the many lies, then we will inevitably become transformed. We renew our minds through God’s revealed truth in scripture. God’s holy word works in unison with His Spirit to sanctify our lives. By submitting to both, we will live a Spirit filled life!

God’s pattern for spiritual growth starts with understanding what the Bible says and what it means. The meaning of the Scripture is the Scripture—if you don’t know what it means, you don’t have the truth. So the process of spiritual growth starts with understanding what the Bible says.

True sanctification begins with renewing your mind. You must know the truth, plain and simple. There’s no premium on ignorance in sanctification. You’re not going to get there through some emotional or mystical experience. Spiritual growth won’t happen by osmosis—it requires the discipline of constantly putting God’s truth in your mind.

Don’t confuse childlike faith with childish thinking. There are no shortcuts in sanctification—a lack of biblical knowledge will always retard your spiritual growth. Apart from the truth of Scripture, there simply is no mechanism to restrain your sinful flesh. Legalism can’t do it. Religion can’t do it, False doctrine can’t either. The only certain method for true spiritual growth starts with absorbing God’s eternal truth.