By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
Many churches claim and teach multiple baptisms — spiritual, in water, and by the Holy Spirit. However, many Christians realize that Paul revealed there is “one baptism” (Eph 4:5). Jesus commanded that one baptism when He resurrected. Jesus declared, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16 ESV). Christ also taught, “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” (Matt 28:19).
The one baptism is the baptism that Peter commanded those who asked, “Brothers, what shall we do?” as they were cut to the heart for they had crucified Christ. Peter instructed, “Repent and be baptized every one 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 2:38). That one baptism in Jesus’s name is baptism in water (Acts 10:47–48). The one baptism in water is also to receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus taught, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
Throughout 1 Corinthians, baptism is in the name of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:13). Paul compared baptism to Moses leading Israel through the sea and under the cloud (1 Cor 10:1–2). Paul revealed that those who have been washed in Jesus’s name are justified and sanctified by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:11). This is the baptism that Paul revealed for those who God joins to the body of Christ — the church (1 Cor 12:13). In the Book of Acts, Luke reported that those baptized were saved and added to the body of disciples (Acts 2:41, 47). Furthermore, Paul observed that baptism is for the dead resurrecting when Christ returns (1 Cor 15:29; cf. Rom 6:5).
The Scriptures reveal that baptism unites the repentant believer with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Rom 6:4). The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the saving gospel (1 Cor 15:1–4). This one baptism is the means of God working and not a work of man. Paul taught, “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,” (Col 2:12–13).
Christians can unite that there is one baptism. Peter revealed, “baptism now saves you” because one is born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:3; 3:21). Ananias urged Paul, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).
By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
By: Scott Shifferd, Jr
Some unbelievers boast of not fearing death. Their boast is a fool’s hope. Without knowing God and obeying the gospel, all are lost and eternally separated from God (2 Thess 1:7–9). However, most people realize that death is the enemy (1 Cor 15:26). The wages of sin is death, and all have sinned (Rom 3:23; 6:23). Jesus came in the flesh and overcame death when He rose from the dead (Heb 2:14–18).
God has promised to resurrect the faithful to glorified bodies like Christ (Phil 3:20–21). For this coming redemption of the body, Paul revealed how God will change the world setting free the creation from the bondage of decay (Rom 8:19–23). In other words, the new creation will be compatible to the glorified bodies of those resurrected to life. The faithful will resurrect as Christ rose from the dead (Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14). Jesus resurrected as flesh and bones, yet He also was glorified having put on immortality (Luke 24:39; 1 Cor 15:20–22, 53). The mortal body will resurrect to immortality (1 Cor 15:51–53).
Christ has given hope and promised to prepare a place for the faithful to come with Him (John 14:3). Abraham looked forward to receiving the heavenly country (Heb 11:13–16). Within this heavenly country is the city of God (Heb 11:10, 16; 12:22–29; Rev 21:2). God promised that the faithful will have entrance into this eternal kingdom (2 Pet 1:11; cf. 2 Tim 4:18).
The Epistle to the Hebrews attests to the biblical prediction that the world will perish and change (Heb 1:10–12). Hebrews describes Christ having power over “the world to come” (Heb 2:5–9). The apostle Peter declared, “according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13). Peter spoke of the real events of the Flood and the coming destruction of the earth by fire. Likewise, Peter attested that the creation of new heavens and new earth is a real event and not a symbolic figure of speech. By Isaiah the prophet, God promised, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind” (Isa 65:17). God described how the saved will build houses and plant vineyards (Isa 65:21–22). Sorrow will cease and death will be no more (Isa 65:19, 23; Rev 21:4).
This is the Christian hope. For the resurrection of the body and freedom of creation to glory, Paul revealed, “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Rom 8:24–25).
By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
Most people have no idea why they do what they do. The whole world cannot escape it. Some people reason that their desires are who they are even if they sleep around or degrade others with profanity and slander. Paul reflected, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rom 7:15). The apostle Paul showed the way to deliver oneself from the acts of the body to walk in the Spirit (Rom 7:24–8:8). That means making no provision of the flesh and disciplining the body daily (Rom 13:13–14; 1 Cor 9:27).
For Christians, the temptations do not cease. Jesus was tempted in every way, but He did not sin. He is able to help everyone (Heb 2:14–18). However, some believers think that they cannot live up to the standards of Christ forgetting God’s grace and the continual washing of the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7). God is faithful providing a way to escape sin. Part of that escape includes the church. Many refuse to be a part of the church of Christ because they try to protect themselves from failure. However, Christ helps God’s people with God’s people. In other words, the church needs Christ and the church. Christians need Christians.
The writer of Hebrews urged believers to remain faithful, not go astray, and live in obedience to God. For this reason, the writer emphasized that Jesus is the high priest and apostle of the Christian confession (Heb 3:1–2). Jesus being more worthy than Moses received glory as the builder of God’s house — the church (Heb 3:3–5). Christ is God’s faithful Son over God’s house (Heb 3:6). To warn against apostasy, the Hebrews writer recalled how Israel saw the working of God during the time of Moses, but many became hard in heart and went astray (Heb 3:7–11). Likewise, the writer warns Christians of not having an evil unbelieving heart and falling away from the living God (Heb 3:12). For this reason, the church is essential to encouraging one anther daily, so that sin does not deceive and harden believers (3:13). Christians can only share in the blessings of Christ if they hold their faith firm until the end (Heb 3:14). Those who are disobedient will not enter God’s eternal rest (Heb 3:15–19).
A close relationship with Jesus Christ and faithfulness in the church help all believers to remain strong. Christians need each other. When believers remain faithful, wonderful things happen. Many more begin to see the glory of Christ in the church. The world sees the light of Christ in His followers. “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart” (2 Cor 4:1).
By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
People want to believe what they want to believe. Wanting to know the truth is the first step to knowing the truth about reality. In the context of a coming apostasy, Paul revealed that those who do not love the truth would not be saved (2 Thess 2:10). Paul told Timothy of a coming time when many will not endure sound doctrine but seek teachers to tickle their ears (2 Tim 4:3–4).
Christians often struggle to let go of habits and traditions especially when believers tie these things into their beliefs. Many believers hold close their upbringing and very fundamental assumptions of life. Traditions and assumptions often undermine understanding the Scriptures. Every Christian must decide to put aside the wisdom of men for the truth.
The supremacy of Christ overcomes many false doctrines. The Christian faith did not come lightly in mere sophistry of words. Jesus Christ is the radiance of God’s glory and exact representation of His nature (Heb 1:3). Christians must stand firm professing the greatness of Jesus Christ encouraging faith among their peers.
Hebrews addressed Jewish Christians of whom unbelieving Jews were trying to persuade to leave Christ and forsake the assembly of the saints. The writer of Hebrews exhorted Christians to give more attention to what they heard from Jesus Christ and attested by those who heard Him (Heb 2:1–3). Hebrews is concerned with believers drifting away from Christ for not giving attention to the teaching and drifting away from the truth (Heb 2:1). Furthermore, God affirmed the teachings of those who heard Jesus by signs and gifts from the Holy Spirit (Heb 2:4). Christians have no reason to neglect the revelation of God from Christ.
The writer of Hebrews overwhelms readers with the greatness of Christ. God subjected the world to come to Christ (Heb 1:10–12; 2:5). God put all things under the subjection of Christ’s feet (Heb 2:6–8). God made Jesus lower than the angels when Jesus shared blood and flesh. Jesus suffered death for everyone (Heb 2:9). Jesus became complete through suffering (Heb 2:10). Jesus was sinless and the source of holiness for all. Jesus came in the flesh and blood so that He destroy one who has the power of death (Heb 2:14). Christ became human in every respect to become a merciful and faithful high priest (Heb 2:17). His death made atonement for sins (Heb 2:17).
What can Christians do to keep believers from leaving Christ? The faithful must continue to speak of Christ among Christians and unbelievers. The church needs the faithful to speak in the church. The church needs leaders who speak of Jesus when they sit and walk, lie down and rise up. This action will change the church and the world.