Learn Something?

(Originally Our Schoolmaster)

Well how does Mobile, Alabama sound today?” I suggested Tuesday morning as we finished breakfast.

            “Where is that?” Joel asked.

            “About 95 miles from here,” I answered. “93 to be more exact.”

            “Sounds interesting,” Felicity stated. “Are we ready?”

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            “Good evening, Amos,” David greeted us that evening.

            “Door keeper, again?” I asked.

            “I guess,” he laughed.

            “So I’ve got a weird question,” I stated. “Where do you all stay?”

            “Pastor’s,” David replied. “We’re staying with the pastor and his family; Antoine and his family stay with the Martins. Jesse and his wife are staying with the McCarthys (the pianist and his family), Peter’s just got a hotel room, the Shelleys and Matthew are staying with the Stantons; I guess that’s it.”

            “So did the Martins offer to film the conference or did Antoine hire them?”

            “Yes and no,” David began. “During the time we were setting up the conference, Ed Martin offered to help somehow or other. Antoine took up Ed’s offer to house the Millers, and Antoine had all the equipment. Since the Martins were the media people for the church, Antoine and Ed worked out something for filming.”

            “So where did everyone come from?” Felicity asked.

            “Matt’s all the way from Oregon,” David said. “Dan and Peter are from Texas; Jesse’s from—one of the Dakotas; South Dakota, I think—Antoine’s from southern Kansas and I’m from Colorado.”

            “So how’d you all get here?” I asked, watching as my children played with the others. Daniel and his family had arrived, which added a few more children.     

            “Pastor contacted Matt,” David began. “Matt pastors a church up there along with a mission of some sort or another for the fishermen. Matt knew Jes from another conference. Jesse’s daughter married Dan Shelley, so Jes called him. Dan pastors a church near Wichita Falls; Pete runs a church in Toyah; he’s Dan’s cousin.

            “Pete knew Antoine through a film project they both had worked on, and Antoine’s wife, Anna, is my third cousin on my dad’s side, so it all ran together.”

            “Okay,” I chuckled, thinking about David’s story.

            The prelude began. “We’ll talk to you later,” I said as we moved to find our seats.

            Pastor Mast stepped to the pulpit a couple of minutes later and opened with a hymn and a word of prayer. After the love offering and another hymn, Peter Burkholder stepped to the pulpit.

            “Good evening,” Peter said. “My text is Galatians 3:23-27. And by the way, Brother Yoder mentioned shorthand last night. That reminds me of something someone told me a year or two ago. This young man told me he had eleven fingers. I said, ‘No one has eleven fingers.’ He said, ‘Yes I do. Watch.’ And began counting his fingers: ‘One-eight, two-eight, three-eight, four-eight, five-eight, six-eight, seven-eight, nine-eight, ten-eight, eleven-eight.’ Now, of course, he had only ten, but I thought about this yesterday: Brother Antoine mentioned ‘Turtles’ on Sunday. Some people read the Bible and imagine that they can support Eternal InSecurity; obedience to be saved; twisted views of Israel; strange eschatological opinions, etc. I guess we should ask them if they have eleven fingers!”

            Everyone laughed.

            “Galatians 3,” Peter said. “Verses 23 through 27:

‘But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 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.’

            “My topic is titled ‘Our Schoolmaster’. God gave Moses and the children of Israel the law. Exodus records these events. Galatians 3:19 says, ‘Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.’ God gave the law for two reasons: one to show people how perfect they’d have to be to get to Heaven by their good works, thereby proving it impossible, and to show people that they must look to Jesus alone for salvation. ‘Wherefore then serveth the law?’ Paul asks, ‘It was added because of transgressions.’ God gave them the law because of their sin because, as Romans 3:20 says, ‘by the law is the knowledge of sin.’ Paul said in Romans 7, you remember, Romans 7:7 that he ‘had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet’. The law defined sin and then told you that you to do this sacrifice or that sacrifice to fix it.

            “But,” Peter continued, “Hebrews 10:1 says, ‘For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.’ According to the law, there were different sacrifices for different sins. But the sacrifices didn’t do any good, especially as time went on when the Jews did it more as a religious form instead of a way of life. Brother Miller mentioned obedience; God wanted them to obey Him, but as we know, they didn’t. James tells us, in James 2:10, ‘For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.’ One preacher put it this way: He was talking about the parable of the man going from Jerusalem to Jericho who was attacked by the thieves in Luke chapter 10, you remember? The priest was too holy to mess with the man; and here comes a Levite. Now the Levites were the ones that didn’t get land, but their responsibility was to teach the people the law and such. Look at Luke 10:32, ‘And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.’ This Levite looked at him, and then walked away. That’s what the law does; it looks at us, says, ‘Wow, you’re sure wicked! See ya!’ It takes God’s mercy through His Son to help us.

            “So this is why Paul says, here in Galatians 3:22, ‘But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.’ Because no one could perfectly keep the law, Jesus had to come down to pay the price. So the law was our schoolmaster to teach us that we needed to look to Jesus for salvation. ‘the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ’ the Bible says.

            “A schoolmaster teaches things,” Peter continued. “Most of you probably went to school—you know what happens when you’re done? You graduate? What happens when you graduate? You’re done with school! Some of you young people are probably looking forward to that day, since when you’re done with school, you no longer have to learn the subjects.

            “But Paul says, ‘after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.’ Paul says that after Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, faith came and we graduated from school. Some people, like Brother Miller mentioned on Sunday, don’t know that I guess. Now that we’ve graduated, however, we have to look back to Christ for salvation.

            “Galatians 4:1-4 and 13 says this, ‘Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

            “‘For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.’

            “You see, once we’re saved, we have been set free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2) and have graduated from the school of the law of Moses. Now we live in and walk in the Spirit, ‘for the letter [that is, the law] killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.’ And ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20).

            “In conclusion,” Peter stated, “we see Galatians 3:26 and 27, ‘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.’ Romans 8:14-17 says, ‘For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.’ When a person is saved, they become children of God. So all of God’s children have graduated from school. I believe it was Brother Jes that mentioned baptism; here Paul says that as many as have been baptized into Christ (after a solid profession of faith, of course) have put on Christ. I praise God for this: We’ve graduated from the law, have received God’s grace, and have become children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. Let’s pray.

            “Father we thank You for Your mercy; that we have become Your children. We thank You that we have graduated, and have been adopted into Your family; all the pork included. Help us to live for You, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

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A Mood and a Mode (V2)

“Well that was an interesting study this morning,” I told Felicity as we left the church and headed to Burger King.

                “Yes it was,” she agreed.

                “I guess I really never noticed what he said about Charity,” I remarked.

                “What’s the topic supposed to be tonight?” Steve asked.

                “Not sure,” Felicity answered. “Brother Holmes is speaking tonight, though.”

                “Were we going to stay here for the evening service?” Susanna asked.

                I looked at Felicity. “Mother and I decided to stay for all of the services,” I answered.

                “Yippee!” the children chorused                                   *                                             *                                             * *

                “Good evening, Amos,” Pastor Mast greeted us that evening. “Good to have you back.”

                “Thank you,” I replied.

                The evening service passed as the morning one. After the sixth song, Pastor Mast announced, “And again, thank you for coming tonight. This evening Brother Jesse Holmes will be speaking.”

                “Thank you, Pastor,” Brother Holmes began as he stepped up to the pulpit, “and good evening. Tonight my topic is  titled, ‘A Mood and a Mode’. Take your Bibles and turn to Matthew 28:19-20. Matthew 28, verses 19 and 20:

‘Go ye therefore, and teach 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. Amen.’

                “Tonight we’re going to look at the mood and the mode of baptism. And by the way, I want to thank Brother Miller for the message this morning; it fits very well with tonight.

                “The mood of baptism. Baptism is defined in Scripture as a public witness of our faith in Christ. Mark 16:16 says: ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

                “Baptism follows salvation. We must be saved to be baptized. We just read Mark 16:16; perhaps some would think baptism saves you. Here we see that that’s not true. ‘He that believeth not shall be damned’, not, ‘is not baptized’.

                “So the mood of baptism involves salvation as well as a realization that this is a public witness to my faith in Christ.

                “And it’s not something to be taken lightly,” Brother Holmes went on. “This is a serious matter; not that we cannot be happy at our baptism, but it isn’t something we should have an attitude of ‘If I have to’, either. We should want to do it, and shouldn’t make someone do it.

                “That also means we shouldn’t pressure someone into getting baptized. The candidate needs to be willing to be baptized, should have a desire to be baptized, and should understand what it’s all about. This would also imply that the parents cannot baptize their children as infants. Acts 8:37, Philip says, ‘If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.’ The Ethiopian had asked if there’s anything hindering him from being baptized. Philip told him there wasn’t if he was saved. The Ethiopian said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God’ and was baptized. Your newer versions don’t have that verse by the way.”

                Brother Holmes looked under the shelf. “Is there any water here?” he asked. “Oh here it is, sorry.”

                “Now,” he continued, putting the water back in its place, “let’s look at the mode of baptism. How many of you here have been baptized?”

                Most hands went up.

                “How many of you were immersed or believe in immersion?”

                Almost all of the hands went up

                “How many of you were poured or sprinkled?”

                A couple of hands went up, including ours.

                “And how many of you believe in these methods or aren’t sure what you believe?”

                A couple of hands went up.

                “And how many of you do not understand the question?”

                No hands went up.

                “Okay,” Brother Holmes resumed, “the mode of baptism, according to Baptists of all ages, is immersion. Is that what the Bible says, then?

                “Look at Matthew 3:16-17,” Brother Holmes stated. “Matthew 3:16-17.”

                “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” Brother Holmes read. “Here we see how John baptized, and we see that Jesus was baptized by immersion. ‘up out of the water’; that should be easy for anyone to see. Now, we know that John’s baptism was of God, so if God ordained immersion, and since Jesus was immersed, could it be that the mode of baptism is immersion?

                “Well, let’s take a look at Acts chapter 8, verses 26-40. Acts 8:26-40. Here we have the story of the Ethiopian eunuch, which I already alluded to. Philip found the eunuch and talked to him and explained the Gospel to him, and along the way, they came across some water. Starting in verse 36, the Bible says, ‘And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

                “So Philip baptized by immersion, look at that!” Brother Holmes stated. “‘Yeah but you see,’ you say, ‘the Philippian jailor, he was poured.’ Not true! Not true, not true, not true! He took Paul and Silas, washed their stripes, and then was baptized. They were out of the jail by that time; Acts 16:32 says that Paul and Silas spoke to all of the jailor’s house. Nice try, though!”

                Brother Holmes cleared his throat. “Romans 6:3-4,” he stated, turning several pages in his Bible. “‘Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.’ Did you notice that phrase ‘buried with him by baptism’? The only, repeat, only way we could be buried by baptism is to be totally immersed in the water. Colossians 2:12 also says that we are buried with him in baptism. Nowhere in Scripture is water baptism referred to as a symbol of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as Mennonites and Amish and others teach.

                “Also consider,” Brother Holmes added, “that the Greek word where we get our word baptism means ‘to immerse in a fluid’. Not that the Greek is needed, but that is where the word baptism comes from nevertheless.

                “So in conclusion,” Brother Holmes stated, “we see that the mood of baptism is salvation in Christ, and the mode of baptism is immersion. Let’s pray.”  

A Small Moment

      Today in the Church there is a theory, a thesis, a belief, that Israel fell from God’s favour in 70 AD and has been replaced by the Church. The ones who subscribe to this system believe that God has cast Israel out and now the Church has taken the mantel, consequentially giving the Church the responsibility to build the kingdom of God on earth. Interestingly enough, those who believe that the Church is now Israel, Replacement Theology as it’s called, usually believe in a Post-Tribulational Rapture or subscribe to the Amillennialist view of the end times.

     While I could spend an entire week on this topic talking about “everlasting” and “eternal” promises made to Israel by God, or all day on Romans 11, I want to bring forward a verse that I came across the other day while reading.

      The verse in question is Isaiah 54:7: “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.”   God has been speaking to Israel this entire chapter, and suddenly tells them this.

     Now while this may seem a bit of a straw man argument, considering this verse is in the middle of telling Israel how God will punish them for leaving Him, it seems to carry some significance. “a small moment”, God says. Let’s not forget that time is slightly irrelevant to God, which means that “a small moment” could be a few years or a couple thousand.

      The best thing is, if we couple this verse with Paul’s statement “blindness in part has happened to Israel”, things begin to make sense. Much like a seasonal item, God has put Israel “in backstock” until the Church’s “season” is finished. That season is ending soon, my friend, so let’s prepare ourselves before the season finale.

     Here’s an odd thought: Everyone who believes in Replacement Theology always takes the blessings and never the curses. Odd.