Baptism, Romans 6:3-7

There are actually quite a few baptisms spoken of in the New Testament. However, regardless of how many baptisms the Bible speaks of, they are of little importance since God proclaims in Ephesians 4:5 that there is only ONE baptism. All the other baptisms are historical and only one is imperative for Christians today. Which one is it? By the context of Ephesians 4:1-7, it must be the baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ, the one and only begotten from God the Father. Not the baptism of The Spirit, or of John, or of Moses or any one else. Why? Because Christ died for us and was raised, proving he was the Son of God with power, but the Spirit did not die for us, and baptism is best understood as a watery grave, victorious by His resurrection from the grave. That grave is what God speaks of in Romans 6:3-5.

Why is the baptism of Christ important?

  1. It is a command/ordinance from the Lord, Matthew 28:18-20.
  2. It contains a promise of Christ’s Spirit as a gift, Acts 2:37-39.
  3. It contains a principle/the source of unity, 1st Corinthians 12:13.
  4. It is the venue for the operation of God by faith, Colossians 2:11-12.
  5. It is the venue for coming into Christ from the outside, Galatians 3:27.
  6. It is a type of Christ’s burial, by immersion, Romans 6:3-7.
  7. It is our personal pledge for receiving salvation, 1st Peter 3:21.

Immersed believers are not baptised by one Spirit, we are baptised by a fellow believer. We are immersed into the Body which brings us into a relationship with the Spirit as a gift, Acts 2:38-39. The one Spirit of Christ is God’s gift we receive when obeying the baptism of Christ as a fellow Christian baptises us. The racial, social and gender differences that divide society and sometimes even a congregation, do not exist within the body of Christ: “You are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-27) So even if we make divisions within the church and denominate the church into different denominations, if a believer obeys Christ and is baptised according to the will of God (a Biblical reason) by faith, then the Spirit does what He promises to do, no matter who baptises or officiates in the ordinance of baptism. The Spirit unites the people of God by having them all immersed into the one body where we have access to “the one Spirit to drink.” 1st Corinthians 12:13. Having this clear understanding of who is doing the baptism, which baptism we are baptised into, and who we receive in baptism, helps us understand the difference between Christ’s baptism and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is actually a very different subject. Do you believe anyone can come into Christ by faith through immersion? See Romans 6:4-11.


The Lord’s Supper, 1st Corinthians 11:20-31

When Jesus told his disciples to “DO THIS” (Luke 22:19) He was speaking as the Lord, and proved by giving his body & blood, to be the Lord of lords in the resurrection of that body and blood. How dare anyone treat the LORD’s Supper as an option! His Apostles & disciples continued steadfastly in observing it, Acts 2:42. The Church in Troas shared every Lord’s Day, Acts 20:7 and the Church in Corinth shared, “often”, 1st Corinthians 11:26, not as some Churches practice observing it as every once in a while.

Jesus established His Supper as a memorial for us, giving us an opportunity to do three things with him. In each of these activities, we are in fellowship/communion with him.

  1. Give Thanks for his powerful & sacrificial love.
  2. Remember Him in his suffering and victorious death.
  3. Examine our self as unworthy and participating in a privileged memorial.
  4. Publicly proclaim His death

The environment, context and background for establishing and maintaining the Lord’s Supper is solemn & respectful, NOT frivolous, casual or ritualistic. Here are the reasons.

  1. He established it the night he was betrayed, 1st Cor. 11:23
  2. The elements, bread & wine are blessed in prayer, and sanctified by His Spirit. This is holy fellowship/communion, it should never be treated in a common, unholy way. 1st Cor. 11:24-25
  3. It is pointing to his death, 1st Cor. 11:26
  4. If respect and meditation are not part of His Supper we condemn ourself, 1st Cor. 11:28-29. A worthy manner must involve a sincere, prayerful gratitude.

This Memorial defeats idolatry from living in our heart, 1st Corinthians 10:14-17, we can not have a higher love than this, if we believe his body suffered and bled to death for our sins, then He took our punishment, freeing us from the consequence of our sin. The Communion is not ours, it belongs to Christ as His Spirit shares a priceless and powerful gift with us. Are we grateful?

The most important sharing we have in the Body of Christ is this:  His flesh & blood!  His Spirit shares Himself with each of us personally as much as we will let Him share with us in obedience to Him, Acts 5:32. God has appointed every individual Christian to come together in worship on the Lord’s Day to share in the Body of Jesus, his flesh and blood.  Why?  Because we are human and our human hearts are deceptive, Jeremiah 17:9.  We are self-willed and it’s too easy for us to swell up with pride throughout the week, thinking we can make ourselves acceptable, instead of remembering that it’s only the sacrificed and risen body of Jesus that can make us worthy in the presence of God. 

John 6:43-65 Is the passage which best explains why the Lord’s Supper is not an act of transubstantiation. It is an actual spiritual experience, not a physical one. The physical bread and wine, are truly and prayerfully emblems that represent the reality of what Christ did on the cross for us. His teaching points us to a spiritual reality, not a physical one. Do you believe this?

Christian Singing, Ephesians 5:19

The WHAT? Making Melody, being two words in English is actually only one word in your Greek New Testament, “PSALLO” meaning ‘to pluck or twang’. The following NT verses use this word, Ephesians 5:19, James 5:13, 1st Corinthians 14:15 (twice), Romans 15:9. Everytime the point is to pluck at something, Eph. 5:19 the heart. Jas. 5:13 the happy person. 1Cor. 14:15 the spirit & understanding of people. Rom. 15:9 the foreign person.

The WHY? There is a reason for God teaching and instructing us to PSALLO or pluck at. The context of each passage above makes clear why God wants us to pluck at something. Rom. 15:9 in order to praise God’s name for his mercy. 1Cor. 14:15-16 in order to give clarity and agreement with everyone who hears. In Jas. 5:13 in order to show we are happy. Eph. 5:18-19 in order to be filled with the Spirit. 

The HOW? Singing! The Greek word is ODAY, from where we get our English word for “ODE”. Everyone can sing, not everyone can maintain harmony, some can’t even keep a beat, but we can ALL SING. If you are doubtful, just pray about it and try.  Since God is a Spirit, he is not desiring a good physical experience, he is actually desiring a good spiritual experience. He wants to feel your gratitude, love and praise, from your heart.

If God can feel your pain, then he can certainly feel your joy. Heb. 4:15 “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities” Also, there is a direct implication that our joy and the joy of the Lord can be intertwined, when Jesus says in John 15:11 “These things have I spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” Singing does indeed MOVE people, which is what some people might need in order to begin the actual “plucking or twanging” of our heart/spirit.

The WHO? Christians of all ages, genders, races & social positions. Romans 15:9-11 & Galatians 3:28, Matthew 21:16. For of such, belong the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of God is righteousness, JOY and peace. Romans 14:17. 

The CONTENT? Last week we looked in detail for New Testament Lyrics. Here is a list of New Testament statements that resemble anthems, choruses, odes or poetic refrains. Romans 11:36, Ephesians 3:21, 1st Timothy 1:17, Revelation 5:12-13, 7:12, 15:3-4, 19:6. Some scholars have suggested that the majority of Ist Corinthians 13, the ‘love’ chapter is a song.

The CONCLUSION: Singing is an obvious act of worship, an expression of our love and gratitude for all that God is, all that Jesus has done, and all the Spirit is doing. No matter how happy or sad we are, we should know Christ wants us to gather together on Sunday to sing. Our determination to do this is pinned on the example of the church in Acts 2:42, but the result is in v47.

New Testament Lyrics, 1st Timothy 3:16

There are a number of koine greek New Testament scholars that are convinced Paul wrote these words to Timothy as a type of memory verse, which could be recited in meter and maybe even fit in a tune. Some linguists think the verse is truly a song, some consider it simply Paul’s attempt at writing greek prose. Whatever the case, there are six facts, which Paul states are in direct relation to why the church of the living God is a place that should affect our behavior in godliness (KJV) and/or worship (ISV). It is not a coincidence that there are songs in our hymn books that fit with the theme of each of these six “mysteries”.

  1. He was manifested in the flesh – Christmas songs
  2. Justified in the Spirit – Resurrection songs
  3. Seen of angels – Songs about his temptation, gethsemane prayer and ascension.
  4. Preached among nations – Evangelistic songs
  5. Believed on in the world – Christian songs of various cultures
  6. Received up in glory – Songs about Heaven/Glory

Have you got a song from making melody to the Lord in your heart?

One description of early Christian behavior comes from Pliny, the governor of Bithynia and client of the Roman emperor Trajan. After hearing suspicious reports about the practices and meetings of Christians, he made an inquiry and found that they “were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god” (Letter 10.96). Pliny’s statement harmonizes with God’s word, “sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord” (Eph 5:19; see also 1Cor. 14:26, Acts 16:25). So since this is the case, where are the hymns in the New Testament? How can they be found? Most biblical scholars use the method of form criticism—looking for clues that suggest a biblical passage that had an earlier use other than its current literary location—to locate hymns that have found their way into New Testament texts. These include: parallel statements, vocabulary that is distinctive to the author, the frequent use of pronouns, and elevated prose. Using this critical criteria, we can likely conclude that such passages as Phil 2:5-11, Col 1:15-20, 1Tim 3:16, 2Tim 2:11-13, Heb 1:1-3, and 1Pet 2:21-25 may very well have had earlier literary lives as actual hymns sung by early Christians.

The theme of 2Tim. 2:11-13 is almost like a battle-cry, and we are very familiar with how songs affect soldiers, here is Rick Renners version of it, 

If we are killed like He was killed,

Then we shall live again as He now lives;

If suffering is forced upon us,

Then we’ll reign with Him like nobility;

If we deny or forsake Him,

He will deny us of our rewards;

If we believe not or grow faint-hearted,

Still He abideth faithful.

He cannot, cannot, cannot deny — Himself!

Can you sing with confidence like you are committed to staying in the fight until the victory is yours and the long-awaited prize is finally in your hands?

The Many Ways to Rejoice, Philippians 4:4-10

Rejoicing in the Lord, v4 & v10. Was it possible that Paul sang his “thanksgiving”? v6. For certain, he saw a way to joyfully express his gratitude for other Christians, v1. Can you count the ways and/or opportunities you have in rejoicing? Jesus did this in the Spirit, Luke 10:21-23. Is it possible that he sang these words? There are many different ways people can express “rejoice always”, it must be very varied, since Jesus rejoiced, and Paul wrote this instruction to a church full of different kinds of people, not to an individual. How do you rejoice? Surely you sing on more than just Sunday?

The book,  “Anatomy of an Illness”, describes the author being diagnosed with arthritis that had essentially crippled him. He was told it was not curable. But the doctors were wrong. He found a therapy that, coupled with nutrition and vitamins, all but ended his debilitation. What was it? Watching old slapstick comedy movies like Laurel and Hardy. His objective: laughter. Maybe, just maybe the author had Philippians 4:8 in mind? There are still some decent comedians that maintain a sense of morality. There is even a couple of “G” rated comedy movies still on sale. Not everything the world produces is sinful, some of it is very helpful, see Php. 4:8.

A joyful heart is good medicine. ~ King Solomon (Proverbs 17:22)  Whether you giggle, chuckle, or just laugh out loud, you laugh! Laughter, or simply smiling, releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of happiness. Researchers in Japan have discovered that laughter actually lowers red blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. Laughter has been shown to have positive effects on the immune system, and reducing platelet aggregation and vascular inflammation. Many health professionals allow this theory in documented journals, suggesting that laughter may also help the overall healing process in cancer therapies. Who knew? That’s easy—God did, and He told you! When you don’t’ feel joyful, when the cares of the daily grind are getting you down, try laughing. Why did our Sunday School teacher, lead us in the song, “If you’re happy and you know it”? Because the Lord’s brother James wrote, “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. (James 5:13) By the way, have you ever recorded yourself singing, and then listened to the play-back? It makes me laugh every time!

There are three abilities God gave humanity, and NOT any other animal in creation. Firstly, the ability to pray, secondly, the ability to laugh, and lastly that ability to sing. That’s right, birds & whales do not sing, they communicate. Scripturally, singing is described in the Bible as pertaining only to stars, God (Zeph 3:17) human beings. Not even angels are described as singing, but they are “chanting”. Many people question the uniqueness of humanity’s ability to sing. It may seem strange to ask if angels sing, people often allude to the Christmas story: “The angels sang to the shepherds when Jesus was born, didn’t they?” The problem is that singing by angels is not mentioned in the biblical Christmas story. In fact, there is very little scriptural evidence that angels do sing.

Probably the clearest passage on this issue is Job 38:7, which says that, at the creation of the world, “the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.” In the parallelism of the Hebrew poetry, the “morning stars” are equated with the “angels,” and the singing is paralleled by the joyful shouts. It seems fairly straightforward: the angels could sing. However, the Hebrew word translated “sang” doesn’t always denote music. It can also be translated as “resoundingly cried,” or “rejoiced.”  Revelation 5 is another passage that may indicate that angels sing. Verse 9 speaks of beings that “sang a new song” in heaven. These beings that sing are the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures—possibly angelic beings, but they are not specifically called such. Then in verse 11 “the voice of many angels” is heard. But now the words are “said,” not specifically “sung.” The words of the angelic host in verse 12 are quite similar to the words of the song in verse 9, but the words of the angels are not explicitly called a song. What about the Christmas story? (Luke 2:13-14) “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God . . . .’” Note, again, that the words of the angels are “said,” not specifically “sung.” Since singing is a type of speaking, the passage does not rule out the idea that the angels sang—but neither does the passage put the question to rest. Perhaps it was more of a “chant” than a melodic song? God has created humanity with an innate connection to music and singing, especially in regard to worship. How do you rejoice?

Praise is Born out of Fellowship (Acts 2:42-47)

Many Christians do not praise God, as they should, simply because they do not experience fellowship (sharing) with God and His people to the extent that God wants them to share, so they miss out on the beautiful power, love and unity that promotes praise. The first Christians were DEVOTED to fellowship. Being devoted (v42) to fellowship is seen in many ways, and the end-result is PRAISE. Christians shared in basically 5 different ways:(v42-46)

1, Apostolic teaching (Acts 14:22)

2, The Breaking of Bread (1st Cor. 11:20-26)

3, Prayer (Colossians 4:2)

4, Meals, (1st Corinthians 10:30-31)

5, Possessions & Goods (1st Timothy 6:18-19)

Praising (v47) God is what angels and shepherds did at the birth of Christ’s physical body, now it is what Christians do at the birth of his spiritual body, Lk. 2:13-20. 

How does the church today emulate this?

Jesus & his disciples used a hymn to sing to God, before Jesus gave his body as a sacrifice, Mt. 26:30. Do you know the significance & purpose of praise during solemn moments? Or is praising God only experienced when you are rejoicing?

The unity of Christ and his family/body, is seen by God, while in praise. It is not just a demonstration of unity, it is where unity is experienced. Read carefully Hebrews 2:11-12. Do you realize that the Spirit of Christ wants to praise The Father while his family is praising Him?

Another verse that proclaims the praise of Christ with his body on earth is found in Romans 15:8-9. The past tense and future tense of this passage points us to the reality of our unity in praise, lasting through millennia. Which will continue right on into eternity when Jesus comes again. Should we understand Ephesians 5:19 as…“Singing & Making Melody to the Lord with Your Heart”   or  “Singing & Making Melody with the Lord in Your Heart” ?

Mary Sang About God (Luke 1:46-55)

v46-47. The basis of Mary’s heart-felt reaction in meeting Elizabeth was her faith in God’s word from an angel. This song of Mary, is similar to the song of Hannah in 1st Samuel 2:1-10. “Magnify” in the greek language is megalunō – “to enlarge something or someone”. Rejoice in greek is agalliaō – “to jump for joy”. So this picture is saying that Mary sang, to make God look great big in her happiness. God’s word to Mary was a promise, and when she met Elizabeth, she saw evidence which assured her of things unseen & a conviction of her hope in the promise of God’s word, see Hebrews 11:1. Her reaction in singing was not because of the angel’s voice in Nazareth, or the trip to Judea, or from Joseph’s love, but actually in her meeting with Elizabeth. Because Elizabeth was already 6 months pregnant, telling her about John (a fetus) leaping within her womb. Assuring Mary that God was big enough to handle any problem the fulfilment of her promise might present.

v48, To be referred to as “blessed” (makarizo) is to be regarded with great respect. This regard does not entail love. Mary is honored but she is not worshiped. Love is the difference. This is not the usual word for ‘blessed’ (makarios) that Jesus uses in the beatitudes. So this prophecy was fulfilled and is kept in an obvious way to this day, as Mary is very well respected in the world. But do we as Christians have respect for her? If we do, how do we show it? Mary will remain the most famous respected woman the world has ever known. There are even statements in Islam’s Koran about the Annunciation, the Visitation, and the Nativity where Mary is referred to as “pure”. James 5:11 has the same word (makarizo) for “the regard”, which 1st century christians & apostles had for ancient prophets and Job himself. In this context, Mary’s status is equated with all faithful children of God. Consider what Jesus says about the greatness of John the immersionist in Matthew 11:11. Mary’s blessedness is indeed global and throughout all earthly generations, being different than ours, but, when we consider eternity, being blessed here is not worth comparing to the blessedness of citizens of Heaven!

v49-55, God’s holiness, mercy and strength, are the virtues of God which Mary sings about. These attributes of God, cause the poor to be helped and the rich to be forsaken. When we sing, these are valuable qualities to keep in mind and be grateful for in our hearts. These songs are not for proud people, but rather, people that fear God, see v50. Fearing God is healthy, but fearing his judgment is indicative of not having the love of God in your heart, see 1st John 4:17-18. There are basically two kinds of fear mentioned in the New Testament. Fear as in deep reverence and awe, the other kind of fear is acting cowardly and afraid. Where is there shown any deep reverence (fear) in our songs of worship today? Some Christians sing like they are timid and scared of being heard. They mutter through hymns like their just humming them. Is this the kind of “fear” God deserves? How do you think Mary sang this song? You should be sure that it was nothing short of beautiful and boisterous! Just like her love for God