If you support our national security issues, you may love and appreciate the United States of America, our Constitution with its’ freedoms, and our American flag.
If you support and practice our fiscal issues, you may value worldly possessions.
If you support and value our social issues, you may love Judeo-Christian values.
If you support and practice all these values, that is all good; an insignia of “Wisdom” . - Oscar Y. Harward
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Friday, March 21, 2008
From The E-mail Bag: HAPPY EASTER–The ‘‘Finished Work of the Cross’’ is Pentecost.
(This commentary was received via e-mail and is authored by Charles "Chuck" Sproull, Springville, Virginia).
What most people don't realize about the gospel of Jesus Christ, is that "the Day of Pentecost" (50 days after His death) was the direct result of His death, burial, resurrection (what we celebrate during Easter season) and ascension into heaven. Also, even though the Resurrection is considered to be the most important event in history of mankind, "the Day of Pentecost" was the most influential event; because that was proof of His resurrection and the beginning of the New Covenant, when God’s Holy Spirit and grace was made available to all mankind all over the earth through the preaching of the gospel by Jesus’ disciples.
The entire Bible and history of mankind can be summarized by Gen 1-5 and Acts 2. In Genesis 1:26-28 God created Adam “and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living body with a living soul.” In Gen 2:24 God ordained standard man/woman marriage to reproduce future generations of mankind. In Gen 3:6-7 Eve and Adam sinned and lost their spiritual relationship with God, became living bodies with dead souls. In Gen 3:15 God promised a future Savior, the “seed of the woman,” who would be victorious over the tempter. In Gen 5:3 “Adam begat sons and daughters after his image and likeness,” susceptible to sinful influences. And 4,000 years later, in Acts 2:4 and 38-42, as a result of Jesus obeying the gospel, , God breathed new life into the souls of believers, and Jesus’ followers became regenerated as living bodies with living souls. Thus, God ordained generation and regeneration to be family affairs.
About 32 years ago, I had a wonderful new birth experience (believing, confessing, repenting, being water “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” and receiving “the gift of the Holy Spirit” – June 11,13, Oct 11,1975). This cleansed my heart of worldly lusts and overwhelmingly filled me with God's love, joy and holiness. This confirmed to me the reality of the gospel and the importance of Pentecost.
Soon afterwards, from studying the Bible, I learned that believing the gospel corresponds to “begotten again of the gospel” (1Cor 4:15, 1 Peter 1:3, Phil 1:10). Just as being begotten by a father precedes physical birth “of flesh” (John 3:6a), which actually consists of being born or water and breath and with an audible sound of breathing; likewise being “begotten again” of the gospel precedes the new birth of the “Spirit” (3:6b), which also consists of water and Holy Spirit, also with an audible sound, when God breathes new life into our souls.
Peter’s message in Acts 2:38 summarizes the procedure for believers to “obey the gospel.” Repentance = death to self will and sin. Water baptism in Jesus’ name = “buried with Him in baptism, in the likeness of His death.” (Rom 6:3-6). Receiving the Holy Ghost = resurrection into new life in Christ (Rom 6:11, 8:9-11).
All three of these correspond to being “born again of water and of the Spirit” (John 3:5, Acts 2:38). This new birth procedure is also referred to in Romans 6:3-13 and Col 2:11-13). Thus the gospel of Jesus Christ (over 2,000 years ago) can be celebrated today, every day, by experiencing the glory of Pentecost for ourselves.
While Jesus' birth, life, death and resurrection were prophesied many places in the Old Testament, "the Day of Pentecost" is when the "new covenant" and the New Testament “church” actually began. This blessed event was prophesied many places in the Old Testament (Jer 31:31-34, Joel 2:28, Isa 28:10-12, and referred back to in Acts Ch 2 and Heb. Ch 8.
Beginning on "the Day of Pentecost," people who believed the gospel began receiving what Jesus provided by the shedding of His blood, and by His resurrection and ascension. Using a technical analogy, the Gospel and Pentecost have a transmitter-receiver relationship. Two important words that link the gospel and Pentecost are “for” and “remission.” Understanding their true meanings is critical in seeing that link.
“Remission:” The most important statement regarding the purpose of Jesus death on the cross, and the least understood, is Matt 26:28, where Jesus said His blood would be "shed for many for remission of sins." Forms of the English word "remission" (occurring 12 places in the New Testament) are translated from four Greek words that mean (and are translated many other places in the New Testament) "forgiveness, blot and wash away." Remission saves us from the guilt of past sins and from fear of future judgment for those sins. On the cross, Jesus didn’t save us, but He provided us with one of many important factor of salvation, “remission of sins.”
He also promised that after He was resurrected, He would send His Holy Spirit back to His followers. He was with them, but would be in them (John 14:17,18,26; 15:26; 16:7). So, in His resurrection, He provided His Holy Spirit to all mankind.
Thus, as a result of Jesus' death, burial, resurrection, ascension into heaven and 50 days later - the pouring out of His Holy Spirit upon all flesh on the Day of Pentecost, sinners began "receiving remission of sins" by believing the gospel, repenting of their sins, and being water "baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins."
Also, on "the Day of Pentecost," Jesus original followers in the upper room, eye witness believers, were “all filled with the Holy Ghost and began speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." And Peter preached to believers who enquired about salvation, “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 your children..." (Acts 2:4, 28-42). God ordained regeneration to be a normal family affair.
“For:” The Greek dictionary definition of the preposition "eis" includes “for,” and is most commonly used to indicate the purpose of a future action. The context meaning of "for" in Matt 26:28 is "shedding of Jesus’ blood for [the purpose of providing] remission of sins." And the context meaning of that same Greek preposition in Acts 2:38 is "water baptism in His name for [the purpose of receiving] remission of sins." [Incidentally: blood is 98% water]. There is no other way to receive remission (forgiveness of sins, washing away the guilt of past sins), because there is nothing else in the Bible whose stated purpose is “for remission;” but only the blood of Jesus, and water baptism, as Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost, the day the New Testament church began (Acts 2:47 > Matt 16:18-19).
Most theologians prefer to think that the only requirement for salvation is to believe the gospel. By skeptical reasoning they think water baptism “for remission” should actually be translated “because of remission;” therefore water baptism isn’t necessary and doesn’t actually save a person; but is only an outward sign and public confession of forgiveness, and of internal cleansing that already occurred as a result of Jesus shedding His blood. So, all we need to do is believe (accept Him and confess Him as our Savior). But there are four serious errors in this reasoning:
(1) If “for” is translated “because of” in Acts 2:38, then for the sake of consistency, that same preposition should also be translated “because of” in Matt 26:28; which would indicate Jesus shed His blood “because of remission;” or that the shedding of Jesus’ blood was an outward sign and public confession of something that had already occurred, as a result of what? Jesus believing and confessing it?
(2) Other places in the Bible, the preposition phrase “because of” is translated from a different Greek word “dia,” used to convey the reason for or result of a past condition.” It is used many other places in the New Testament, but not in these two Scriptures. There is no way to exchange one for the other in Scripture – they are not interchangeable.
(3) Theologians define water baptism as a work, and since James wrote that works don’t save us, and since [they say] we are “saved by grace alone by faith alone,” therefore the work of baptism doesn’t save us. Actually, water baptism is not work for the believer, the preacher does all the work. Also, they misquote and misunderstand the phrase “by grace are ye saved, through faith” Eph 2:8. According to the dictionary definitions and Bible context meanings of those two Greek words (charis” through “pistis”), “by grace” means “by God’s freely-given divine influence in our hearts, and it’s reflection in life,” and “through faith” means “trusting God’s word” enough to obey it, motivated by belief and hope (desire + expectation). Please study Titus 2:11-12 for the corresponding Bible context meaning of “grace,” and Heb 11:6, and Rom 1:5, 16:26, and then read Acts 19:1-8 to see how the Ephesians were born again of water and of the Spirit into the Kingdom of God and saved by God’s grace (divine influence), by through faith (responding in obedience to) the preaching of God’s word.
(4) Many think that since the thief on the cross was saved without water baptism and without the Holy Spirit, so can we. But that was at the end of the Old Testament (what Jesus “finished” on the cross), and he was never referred to anywhere in the New Testament letters.
When Peter preached the gospel to Cornelius's household, after they "received" the same gift of the Holy Ghost Peter and the others had received, he commanded them to "receive" remission of sins by believing on the name of Jesus, in water baptism (Acts 10:43-48, 11:14-17). This confirms that Jesus only provided remission on the cross.
When Paul preached to the Philippian jailor and family, he began his sermon with the title, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved..." Then he spent the rest of the time in 16:32 (5 min - 1 hour?) explaining in more detail (implementation language) how to believe on Jesus Christ. That is motivated them to be water baptized (16:33) and rejoice (16:34). Luke didn't write all the details in Acts 16:30-34, so those Scriptures can't be used to justify not baptizing, or baptizing the wrong way for wrong reasons.
When and where did Paul "wash his sins away?" On the road to Damascus when He believed on Jesus Christ as Lord, or when he was water baptized in Damascus calling on the name of Jesus (Acts 22:16). How did the Ephesians become "holy and without blame before God in love"? By receiving the Holy Ghost and being "baptized in the name of Jesus Christ" for the remission (forgiveness) of their sins (Acts 19:1-7). What did Peter attribute his salvation and “the answer of a clean conscience” to?” Water baptism (1 Peter 3:21).
Finally, my friend, if you are still wondering if it is really necessary to “obey the gospel” and be water baptized in order to be saved, here is a question and answer for you to consider. Peter asked the question, “What shall the end be of them who obey not the gospel of God” (1 Peter 4:17). Concerning their eternal destiny, Paul answered, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them who know not God, and obeyed not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction…” (1 Thes. 1:8,9). Pretty severe consequences, right?
When I was deeply concerned about the eternal destiny of my soul, God lead me to a place where I could hear and obey the gospel and receive the complete new birth, “of water and of the Spirit.” And it was so powerful I want others to know about it. So if I ever have a chance to wish you a “Happy Easter,” I would add, “The happiest Easter is a Pentecostal Easter.” - Chuck Sproull, Springville, IN., 3/19/2008 (1,9873 words)
Oscar Y. Harward