Prayer of Asaph in a time of judgment

“O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.”  Psalm 79:1 (Read Psalm 79)

What happened in Judah and Jerusalem to move Asaph to pen the words of Psalm 79, in which he pleads with the LORD God for mercy upon God’s people and judgment upon their enemies? Could it happen here?

We learn from the Scriptures that Asaph was a musician and prophet who lived during the reigns of Kings David, Solomon and Rehoboam (cf. 1 Chron. 6:31ff.; 16:4ff.; 25:1ff.; 2 Chron. 29:30; Ezra 2:41) and wrote a number of the psalms (Psalms 50 and 73-83). He led the children of Israel in their worship of the LORD in Jerusalem. And, after witnessing the greatness of the kingdom of Israel under David, Asaph then began to see things come apart under the reigns of Solomon and Rehoboam.

We read in 1 Kings 14:21ff. that God’s people turned aside from following after the LORD and worshiped other gods. We also read that sodomites were in the land and the people lived according to the abominations of the nations that God had cast out of the land of Israel before them. 2 Chronicles 12:1-4 tell us: “And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him. And it came to pass, [that] in the fifth year of king Rehoboam Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the LORD, with twelve hundred chariots, and threescore thousand horsemen: and the people [were] without number that came with him out of Egypt; the Lubims, the Sukkiims, and the Ethiopians. And he took the fenced cities which [pertained] to Judah, and came to Jerusalem.”

When Rehoboam and the people humbled themselves before the LORD, God spared Jerusalem from utter desolation. But “Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king’s house; he took all: he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made” (2 Chron. 12:9).

Thus, the prayer of Psalm 79 from a man of God and his petition: “O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake” (v. 8-9).

As we see our own nation turn from the LORD and serve other gods, as wickedness (including sodomy) increases, we can expect God’s judgment to fall upon our land – unless we heed God’s word: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). Only in Christ Jesus, the Son, is there pardon, forgiveness and life (Psalm 2). Let us humble ourselves and look to Him!

Have mercy upon us and our people, O LORD, for we have sinned and gone astray. Bring us to repent of our sins and look to You for mercy. Amen.


A Psalm of Asaph.

1 O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.
2 The dead bodies of thy servants have they given [to be] meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.
3 Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and [there was] none to bury [them].
4 We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.
5 How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?
6 Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.
7 For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place.
8 O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.
9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake.
10 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where [is] their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight [by] the revenging of the blood of thy servants [which is] shed.
11 Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die;
12 And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.
13 So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.

[Scripture Quoted from the King James Version of the Bible]


Jesus’ answer to a crossless Christianity

“And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and [of] the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” Mark 8:31-33 (Read 27-38)

Many churches preach Christ, the Son of God, but fail to preach the cross. They proclaim Christ’s love and His acts of compassion on the suffering and downcast but fail to preach His greatest act of love – bearing upon the cross the guilt and condemnation for the sins of the entire world.

Perhaps it’s because they fail to accept and preach God’s law in all its severity and do not see mankind’s utter depravity and guilt before God and our need for the cross of Christ and the redemption He accomplished for all when He suffered and died there for the sins of all people. Perhaps it’s because they fail to understand that, without the cross of Jesus and His blood shed there for the sins of the world, we all stand condemned to the eternal torments of hell for our sinfulness.

When Jesus asked His disciples who they believed He was, Peter rightly answered for all the disciples: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matt. 16:16). As Jesus said, Peter knew and believed this only because it had been revealed to Him by God the Father in heaven (Matt. 16:17). But, when Jesus began to speak of His coming sufferings, death and resurrection in Jerusalem (Mark 8:31), Peter took Jesus and began to rebuke Him, saying: “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee” (Matt. 16:22).

How did Jesus respond? We read His answer in the Gospels: “But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” (Mark 8:33). Peter’s understanding and desire was not in accord with God’s plan for our salvation but with the thinking and understanding of man and, as such, Peter was not speaking for God but for Satan.

What of churches which preach Christ but not the cross? Are they not doing the same thing? If they fail to preach the law so people know their utter sinfulness and the gospel so people hear and come to know of the redemption Jesus accomplished for all when He suffered and died upon the cross, are they not speaking for Satan rather than for God? Are they not saying the things which appeal to man rather than saying what God has said and done?

St. Paul wrote: “We preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23). And, indeed, it is true: “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18; cf. v. 23ff.).

And, it is also true that churches like to preach Christianity without the cross of suffering. Some even go so far as to say that once a person becomes a Christian the hardships and troubles in his life will be over.

Again, what does Jesus say? “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:34-35).

One cannot become a Christian and avoid the cross. Jesus calls each of us to deny ourself, take up our cross and follow Him, wherever He leads. We are called to lay down and give up the things this world offers and gives and seek after Christ and His kingdom (Matt. 6:33). And, of what benefit will all the blessings of this world be if we lose our own soul?

We are called to follow Christ and hold fast to His Word even though it brings suffering and persecution in this world. Jesus said: “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).

And so we see, one cannot really have Christ without the cross. It is only through the cross of Christ that we are made acceptable to God and have pardon, forgiveness and life everlasting. And as followers of Christ, we too will have crosses to bear – death to self and this world, and persecution and suffering for the sake of Christ and His Word. But the way of the cross is the way of life. Only in Christ and the cross do we have the eternal joys of heaven.

Grant that we know You, O Lord, and trust in Your blood shed upon the cross for our sins. Help us to preach the cross that others too might know You and the salvation You have won for all. And make us willing to take up the cross and follow You, wherever You lead us. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible]

Making Known God’s Covenant to Our Children

“For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: and might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.” Psalm 78:5-8

In the opening verses of Psalm 78, Asaph reminds God’s people of the covenant and doctrine which God had given to their fathers and which had been passed down from generation to generation. He says, “Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us” (v.1-3).

And he tells why it was so important that God’s merciful dealing with Israel be shared with future generations: “That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: and might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.”

This is why God commanded His people: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deut. 6:6-7; cf. 2 Tim. 3:14ff.). It is also why the apostle Paul wrote: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

How important it is for us to continually remind our children and grandchildren of the doctrine committed unto us by God and taught to us by our parents and grandparents – to share with them the truth revealed to us in God’s Word, that God graciously called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9), that God graciously forgave all our sins and accepted us as His own dear children for the sake of the innocent sufferings and death of His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, in our stead (cf. Eph. 1:6-7)!

We share these wonderful truths with our children and grandchildren that they might place their hope in God and His mercy toward them in Christ Jesus and that they might continue in the covenant He established with them at their baptisms – to wash away their sins for Jesus’ sake and to give them a place in his everlasting kingdom – and not harden their hearts against Him in unbelief.

We thank Thee for Thy mercy, O Lord, for granting us forgiveness and life in Christ Jesus. Enable us to remind our children and grandchildren of Your Word and Your mighty working to accomplish our salvation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

[Scripture Quoted from the King James Version of the Bible]


Why do I Believe in Jesus?

Why do I believe in Jesus? Why do I follow after Him and read His Word? My answer is quite simple. I believe in Jesus because I am a sinner and because Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

I am a sinner – there’s no doubt about that! I haven’t kept all of God’s commandments perfectly as He demands. I haven’t loved God with all my heart, soul and mind; and I haven’t loved my neighbor as much as I have loved myself. I haven’t always put God first in my life, and I haven’t always used God’s name in an honorable way or eagerly listened to God’s Word. I’ve disobeyed my parents. I’ve hated and spoken evil of others rather than loving and helping them in their needs. I’ve had evil thoughts and desires, and I’ve desired things which were not mine to have.

God’s Word is right when it says of me: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”; and, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23, 6:23a). I know that I am a sinner and, in God’s judgment, deserve to be condemned to eternal punishment in hell for my sins!

So, why do I believe in Jesus? Because He came into the world to save sinners!

The Bible says: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).

All of us are sinners, and God provided a way for sinners like me to be saved when He sent His only begotten Son into the world as a true man to keep God’s commandments for me and then to die upon the cross and bear the punishment for my sins and the sins of the whole world of sinners.

Again, the Bible says that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures … He was buried … He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4); and that “Jesus Christ the righteous … is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1, 2).

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on the third day is proof that He paid in full for all my sins – He made atonement for the sins of all people – for He was suffering there, not for anything He had done amiss, but for our transgressions and disobedience to God’s perfect law. The Bible says of the Lord Jesus that He “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25).

I believe in Jesus because God has forgiven all my sins and made me, a sinner, acceptable in His sight through Christ Jesus. The Bible says: “He hath made us accepted in the Beloved. In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:6, 7).

Because of Jesus’ life and death for me, I know that God will not condemn me to eternal suffering in hell for my sins, but will, instead, grant me a place with Him in heaven! Jesus Himself says: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

Yes, I am a sinner and have come short, but I am “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

When I stand before God in His great judgment on the Last Day, I need not be afraid. Though a sinner, Jesus shed His blood for me! His cleansing blood will be my only plea!

I pray that you, too, will believe in Jesus, for He came into the world to save sinners like me and like you!

Pastor Randy Moll

Ammi or Lo-ammi? God’s people or not God’s people?

“Then said [God], Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye [are] not my people, and I will not be your [God]. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, [that] in the place where it was said unto them, Ye [are] not my people, [there] it shall be said unto them, [Ye are] the sons of the living God.” Hosea 1:9-10 (Read Hosea, chapter one)

God sent Hosea the prophet to warn the people of Israel of His coming judgments for their unfaithfulness to Him. Like a wife who had played the harlot and been unfaithful to her husband, so the people of Israel had been unfaithful to the LORD God who had redeemed them and taken them as His own people and bride.

God had Hosea illustrate His message by taking a wife who had been a prostitute and have children by her, giving them names which testified to God’s judgments: Jezreel because God was about to avenge the blood of Jezreel on the house of Jehu; Lo-ruhamah because God was no longer to deal with the house of Israel in mercy but, instead, exercise His judgment upon them for their unfaithfulness; and Lo-ammi because God no longer regarded the people of Israel (the northern kingdom) as His people.

But God also said: “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, [that] in the place where it was said unto them, Ye [are] not my people, [there] it shall be said unto them, [Ye are] the sons of the living God.”

Though the people of Israel were being cut off for their unfaithfulness, the LORD was going to fill His kingdom. Where it was said of people that they were not God’s people, they would be called sons of the living God. People who were not God’s people would be called God’s people (cf. 1 Peter 2:9-10).

Though God’s judgment came to pass and the people of the northern tribes of Israel were swept away by the Assyrians, yet God has shown mercy unto us. We, for the most part, are not physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We were not among God’s chosen people. Yet the LORD God has shown us great mercy in revealing to us His Son and all Christ Jesus has done for us by His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross. He has graciously adopted us as His own dear children, bringing us to faith in Christ Jesus through the hearing of the Gospel (cf. Eph. 1:3ff.; 2:11ff.; Col. 1:19ff.; Gal. 3:26ff.).

While the children of Israel were ammi (God’s people), through their whoredoms and idolatry they became lo-ammi (not God’s people). And we, who were lo-ammi, are now ammi and have obtained unfathomable mercy from the LORD God in Christ Jesus our Savior!

The prophecy of Hosea is a warning to all who turn away from the LORD that His mercy can be taken from them. Instead of dealing with them as sons, He may finally have to judge them as His enemies.

But the prophecy brings great comfort to us in that God has shown us, who were not God’s people, great mercy, forgiving all our sins for Jesus’ sake. Instead of dealing with us as our sins deserve, He graciously forgives and accepts us as His own dear children for the sake of Jesus’ sufferings and death on the cross in our stead (cf. Ps. 103:8-12).

O gracious and merciful God, keep us from unfaithfulness to You and grant us Your mercy and grace for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

[Scripture from the King James Version of the Bible]


What makes us clean or unclean in God’s eyes?

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Mark 7:21-23 (Read Mark 7:1-23)

Can we be saved by observing the traditions passed down to us from our fathers? Is it enough if we observe their worship forms and abstain from practices which go against those traditions? Are we acceptable and clean before God through such observances?

What did Jesus say when His disciples were accused by the Pharisees of breaking a tradition of the elders which required a washing of the hands before eating? He pointed out how they had elevated their man-made traditions to such a level that they were depending upon them for their standing before God rather than drawing near to God with their hearts (v. 1-6). And, as a result, their worship was vain and empty.

They elevated their traditions to such a level that they used them to avoid obedience to God’s commandments (v. 7-13). As a result, they were setting aside and disregarding God’s commandments.

And yet, what they failed to see was that their uncleanness came from within. It wasn’t something that came from outside them by eating with unwashed hands; it was from within, from their evil hearts. Jesus explained (v. 20-23): “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Thus, while they appeared clean and righteous outwardly, their hearts were still evil and full of sin. They were still unclean and unacceptable to God.

And what about us? Are we depending on outward forms or traditions? Do we teach for doctrines the commandments of men? Do we even set aside God’s Word to hold to our traditions? Is our righteousness outward only while our hearts are far from the LORD? Cf. Rom. 3:9ff. Do we not realize that our uncleanness comes from within? That our hearts are, by nature, since the Fall, inclined to evil and sin (cf. Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Ps. 51:5; Jer. 17:9)? Out of our hearts “proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies…” (Matt. 15:19).

That is why we need Jesus. “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world” (1 John 2:2). When we see our utter sinfulness and look to God for mercy, “He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). “We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7).

Our hearts need cleansing and healing. That is why David, after confessing His sin and looking to God for mercy, prayed: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10).

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin … Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Amen.

[Scripture Quoted from the King James Version of the Bible]


Will there be politicians in heaven?

Will there be politicians in heaven? Perhaps another way to ask this same questions is: “Can politicians, too, be saved?”

There is a Bible verse in the Book of Revelation, chapter 21, verse 8, which raises questions, especially now, during campaign season when the airwaves and Internet are filled with political ads bashing the opposition and grossly misrepresenting the truth. That Bible verse, which describes the final outcome of God’s judgment, reads: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

We read that verse and can understand why God would condemn those who commit abominations and murder. We understand why those who make use of prostitutes will be in the lake of fire. We agree that those who practice sorcery and idolatry will spend eternity in hell. But then we come to that last group who will be condemned: “all liars.”

Since one of God’s commandments forbids bearing false witness against our neighbor (Ex. 20:16; Deut. 5:20) and God clearly says all liars will be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death, can politicians be saved?

For so many, their terms in office begin with a lie. They swear on the Bible to uphold the United States Constitution and then begin to violate its clear and plain words at almost every turn in order to gain power, wealth and political ambitions.

And, as I said in the opening paragraphs, can politicians be saved if they lie, twist and misrepresent the truth and smear others? The Word of God tells us where such politicians will be: “in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” It won’t matter if they claimed to believe or claimed to be guided by God’s Word.

By the way, we really won’t need politicians in heaven because everyone will be perfect and without sin – no laws and rulers will be necessary.

So, how can politicians be saved? The answer, of course, is the same for all: Repent and believe the Gospel. Put another way, that simply means to acknowledge and turn from sin to Christ Jesus for pardon, forgiveness and eternal life.

That is, after all, what Jesus preached (Mark 1:15; Luke 24:47). It’s what John the Baptist preached (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:1ff.). It’s what Peter and the apostles preached (Acts 2:38-39; 3:19; 20:21; 1 John 1:8 – 2:2). That is also why Jesus suffered, died and rose again – to pay the penalty for all our sins that we might repent and trust in Him for forgiveness and life eternal in His kingdom.

And, if politicians do repent and trust in the Lord Jesus, not only will they be saved, the lying should stop and the truth be clearly spoken.

And, to be fair as a preacher, perhaps I should ask the same question in regard to preachers and pastors? Will they be in heaven? After all, they will be out of a job there, too, because everyone in heaven will know the LORD and know His Word.

Truth is that ministers, too, ought to be concerned about lying and misrepresenting the truth. They claim to speak for God and to be instructing people in the doctrines of His Book – the Bible.

If they purposely alter the clear teaching of the Bible for the sake of earthly gain, power or wealth, isn’t that the same as what the politicians are doing? What if they teach some parts of the Bible and ignore others? Isn’t that a misrepresentation of the truth? And the cost is eternal – souls are misled and lost forever to God’s kingdom.

And, if it is done in ignorance, perhaps because ministers were taught errors in doctrine through other preachers, professors or church bodies, does that excuse teaching falsehood in the name of God? The end result is still just as devastating for the lost and misled.

Ministers have a responsibility greater than any other when they preach and teach because they represent God and are responsible to Him for faithfully speaking His words and not their own. People’s souls depend upon their faithfulness. Ministers are not to preach their own thoughts and opinions, or even those of church leaders and theologians. They are to proclaim the clear and plain words of the Bible. They are not to give their own interpretations of Scripture to the people, but to use Scripture to interpret Scripture for the people.

The Bible says of ministers (1 Cor. 4:1-2): “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”

So, can preachers, too, be saved? Will there be ministers in heaven? Only if ministers repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ! There is no other way.

And if ministers repent and trust in Christ, not only will they be saved from that lake of fire, we should be able to see the fruits of repentance: great respect for God’s Word, care to preach all of it faithfully, letting Scripture (not church bodies and church leaders, not so-called theologians, not popular opinion) interpret Scripture.

Are our hearts too hard to see?

“And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not [the miracle] of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.” Mark 6:51-52 (Read Mk. 6:30-56; cf. Jn. 6:1ff.; Mt. 14:13ff; Lk. 9:10ff.)

Should we be fearful when trouble comes our way? Or should we be amazed when Jesus meets all our needs?

Jesus’ disciples were fearful when caught in a storm as they rowed their boat across the Sea of Galilee. And, when Jesus, who walked to them on the water, entered the boat and the winds stopped, they were amazed. Why? Because they hadn’t considered and grasped the miracle they had just seen: the feeding of more than 5,000 with a few small loaves. Their hearts were hardened and they failed to recognize who Jesus is and to trust in Him, the Bible tells us.

What about us? Are our hearts hardened? Are we fearful when we have bills to pay and not enough to pay them? Or, when we become sick or face death? When troubles come? Or storms? Or threats of war and trouble?

Do we look at things with our hearts hardened? Or, do we remember who it is who is with us always even to the end of the world (Matt. 28:20)? Do we say on the basis of hardened hearts, “What are they among so many?” (John 6:9) or do we give thanks and leave the rest to our God and Savior?

Do we not realize that Jesus is God the Son in human flesh? He created all things with His almighty Word and there is nothing too hard for Him (John 1:1ff.; Jer. 32:17). He fed thousands with a few loaves and fish. He healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, cleansed lepers, made the lame whole and even raised the dead. When He tells us not to worry but seek first His kingdom (Matt. 6:25ff.), should we be afraid? Should we be full of doubts and fears?

And when He intervenes and grants us help, healing, strength and all that we need, do we see and recognize His helping hand? Or, are we astonished and surprised when we do see Him at work?

Have we considered what He did for us upon the cross? Do we doubt that all our sins are forgiven? That He gives us to partake of His sacrifice for us? That all our sins are washed away and we are God’s children through our baptism? Consider the price He paid? Consider that it is finished as He said. That in Him we are “accepted.” “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:6,7).

O Spirit of God, open our hearts and minds to see Jesus, to recognize Him for who He is and to trust in Him and all He has done for us. Grant that our hearts not be hardened, but accepting and trusting of the truth. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

[Scripture Quoted from the King James Version of the Bible]


What does God work in us through Baptism?

Christian Baptism was instituted and commanded by Jesus when He told His disciples: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach (disciple) all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:18-20).

Jesus’ disciples also taught that all people should be baptized. Peter said: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, [even] as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:38-39). And Jesus’ disciples baptized those who came to faith in Jesus, at times baptizing whole households (Acts 2:41; 8:12,38; 16:15; 1 Cor. 1:16).

Children (including infants and young children) are to be baptized since they are included in Jesus’ words “all nations” and “every one of you” and “your children.” The Bible also calls baptism a “circumcision made without hands” (Col. 2:11-12), and circumcision under the Old Covenant was performed on the eighth day. No where does the Bible ever say that children should not be baptized until they reach a certain age or that children are innocent and without the need of having their sins washed away.

Nor does the Bible ever specify the mode in which baptism is to be performed. The Greek word for baptize simply means to wash with water, and New Testament usage of the word “baptize” bears this out. Thus, whether one is fully immersed, or has water poured or sprinkled upon him is not an issue.

The true and important issues which the Scriptures teach regarding baptism are the following:

1. Baptism – or applying or washing with water – in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is not man’s work but God’s work – water is applied in His name and He works through it. Jesus said, “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19); and “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:10-12).

2. Baptism conveys and assures to us the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life which Christ Jesus won for all by His holy life and innocent sufferings and death upon the cross. Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Act. 2:38); and Saul (the apostle Paul) was told by Ananias, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

3. The Holy Spirit works through Baptism to bring us to faith in Christ Jesus, wash away our sins in Jesus’ blood and regenerate us with a birth from above. Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8). The apostle Paul wrote to Titus: “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).

4. Through Baptism, God brings us into a New Covenant relationship with Him whereby we are children of God and have the promises of the covenant; namely, forgiveness of sins and the eternal blessings of heaven. Paul writes to the churches in Galatia: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye [be] Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:26-29). Quoting from the prophet Jeremiah, the writer to the Hebrews states: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 8:8-12). Later, he writes: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and [having] an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised…)” (Heb. 10:19-23). As circumcision was the sign of the Old Covenant, so Christian Baptism is the sign of the New Covenant in which we are joined to Christ in His death and resurrection and receive the benefits of His atoning sacrifice; namely, the forgiveness of all our sins and a place in God’s eternal kingdom (cf. Col. 2:8-15).

Therefore, we believe that Baptism has been instituted by God to be a means whereby He offers, gives and assures to an individual the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation which Christ won for all by His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross (Col. 2:11-15; 1 Pet. 3:21; Gal. 3:26-29). In Christian Baptism, water is applied (by sprinkling, pouring or immersing) in the name of the Triune God (Matt. 28:19); and through Baptism, the Holy Spirit works to create and preserve saving faith, thus washing away sins and giving eternal salvation to all who believe (John 3:5; Titus 3:5; Acts 22:16; Mark 16:16).

We believe that all people are to be baptized – including infants and children, for they too can believe – and that those who reject Baptism forfeit the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation which God would give them through it (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38-39; Luke 18:15-17; John 3:5-6; Matt. 18:6; Luke 7:30).

[Scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible]

The Triune God reveals that He is eternal

When the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1), it not only tells us of creation but of the fact that in the beginning God already was. The Bible amplifies this even more when it says in the Psalms, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Ps. 90:2).

Then read Genesis 1:2: “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Not only the Father, but the Spirit was in the beginning. He is, by the way, called “the eternal Spirit” in Hebrews 9:14.

Combine this with John 1:1-4: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” And so we see that the Word, the only begotten Son of God in human flesh (cf. John 1:14,18), also was in the beginning and is the Creator of all and the giver of life – both physical and spiritual. And the Son, too, is called eternal in Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 7.

Therefore, the Father is eternal, the Son is eternal and the Holy Spirit is eternal; and yet there are not three eternals but one eternal God who created the heaven and the earth.