Archive for November, 2005


Jesus Christ went to the Jordan River and commanded John the Baptist to baptize Him (Matthew 3: 6 – 16).

As Jesus neared the end of His earthly ministry, He gave the church the “Great Commission” in which He commanded persons to be baptized after being saved (Matthew 28: 19, 20).

From this it is apparent baptism was important to Him.

The Greek word used in the New Testament meaning “to baptize” is “BAPTIZO.” It meant to immerse. That is what John the Baptist did to Jesus, he immersed Him.

All baptism, up until 330 AD, was by immersion. The oldest Christian baptistery in the world now exists in Nazareth. It was designed for persons to be immersed in it.

In 330 AD the Roman Emperor got the false idea that baptism saves. At that time the false teachers of baptism saving persons crept into the church. The Roman Emperor became the head of the church and introduced the concept. He believing this commanded all persons to be baptized. To facilitate this not only the meaning, but the method also was changed. They began sprinkling instead of immersing. The idea became popular and has been perpetuated in some churches.
True New Testament baptism, as experienced and commanded by Christ, was by immersion.

Secular records of the time of Christ use the word “BAPTIZO” in such a way as to underscore the meaning to be immersed. For example, there is a secular story of two ships having a sea battle. One is said to have “baptized” the other. That did not mean they sprinkled water on it or even that they poured water on it. It means they sank it, that is, they immersed it.

Another secular record involved a Roman Governor named John Hyracainus who was suspicious of his nephew aspiring to have his office. One day he saw him in the swimming pool and sent his servants out to “BAPTIZO” him to death. That did not mean they sprinkled him to death or even poured him to death. It meant they immersed him to death.

The motivation for being baptized is noted in Romans 6:4. We are “buried with Christ in baptism” and “risen to walk in a newness of life.” It is intended to depict the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Likewise, it illustrates we were once not in Christ (the person standing in water), but submitted our life to Christ and entered into union with Him (immersion), and He gave us new life (coming up out of the water).

In the New Testament every person who experienced Christian baptism was saved before being baptized. That one exception was put in the Bible to let us know baptism doesn’t save us.

The story of Simon, the person who was baptized but not saved, is recorded in Acts 8:9-24. He “believed,” that is, he accepted as fact all the truths about Christ. However, he did not follow his intellectual acceptance of facts with belief in Christ as his personal Savior and commit his life to Him. He was baptized but not saved. This story is included in the Bible to let us know baptism does not save us. If it did he would have been saved, and he wasn’t.

Jesus saves us when we repent and ask His forgiveness of our sins.

We are not baptized to be saved, but because we have been saved.

We are baptized as an act of obedience to Christ command as given in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Atonement Healing

“… by His stripes we are healed” I Peter 2:24
Peter’s quote of Isaiah 53:5 is noted by some as proof that all Christians are to be healed of all illnesses. This is called Atonement Healing.

In context neither Isaiah or Peter is speaking of bodily illness. The context in which the statement appears clearly defines the term. The Greek word for “healed” used here is used in various ways in Scripture. In Luke 4:18 it refers to relieving of heartaches, in Hebrews 12:13 to correcting ones conduct, and in Matthew 13:15 it means to bring about ones salvation.

The Hebrew word for “healed” used by Isaiah (NAPHA) can be used for physical or spiritual healing. The context clearly reveals the reference is to spiritual healing. Of what does Isaiah say we are healed —- transgressions and iniquities. Peter makes it clear that it is “our sins” of which we are spiritually healed.

This is not to deny or diminish the reality that physical healing can come from the Lord. The Lord God is RAPHA, the God who heals. Jesus was called the Great Physician. However, He does not heal all.

Paul had an ailment (II Cor. 12: 7-10). Timothy had a stomach disorder (I Tim. 5:23). Paul instructed him to take a little wine for his stomach. Amoeba in the water caused stomach problems. The wine and water mixture noted in rabbinical writings was one part wine and twenty parts water. If healing were in the atonement why didn’t Paul instruct him to claim his healing instead and giving medical advice?

Trophimus and Epaphroditus were very sick (II Tim. 4:20 & Phi. 2: 26, 27). Nothing in Scripture indicates these conditions resulted from th persons being out of fellowship. Illness does not indicate a person is out of God’s will.
Paul spoke of an illness he had (Galatians 4: 13-15) in addition to his thorn in the flesh (II Cor. 12: 7-9).

If healing is in the atonement why didn’t James instruct the saints to claim it instead of anointing with oil and praying?

(On this web site under “Price Tags” read “Anointing With Oil” for more on James 5: 13-25 regarding anointing with oil.)

II Corinthians 4: 7 – 18 clearly teaches we will be susceptible to suffering and sickness. Ecclesiastes 12: 1- 7 colorfully and graphically describes the ailments and limitations of the body that naturally consequent from aging.

The idea that all Christians can be healed by rebuking sickness and/or claiming atonement healing is erroneous. It is contrary to the teaching of Scripture and the experience of some Bible characters.

There is healing in the atonement. There is also assurance of resurrection in the atonement. The cross is the basis for all blessings granted believers. This does not mean all benefits can be obtained on demand. If it did believers would have the authority to claim their resurrection at a certain time just before death. All blessings promised believers will be received. That of the resurrection will only be at the time of the rapture. Like the resurrection total healing will not be received until the end of the age. Matthew 8: 17 is best understood in light of this.

The “name it and claim it” school of theology has led many to despair and/or disillusionment. Advocates assert what you confess you profess. Talk sickness and you will get sick. Talk healing and health and you will get well. All persons should maintain a positive attitude. Believers have every reason to be optimistic. Our thoughts do not create reality however. Only God can do that.

As a pastor I have observed many person approach and experience death with great faith and confidence in God. They knew their greater reward awaited them, their ultimate healing.

The redemption of the body is something we are awaiting: “…we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8: 23 [read verses 18-25]).

Many advocates of atonement healing urge believers to shun modern medicine and trust God instead. By His grace God has revealed many healing procedures and products. In many instances it pleases Him to use medicines and doctors as His agents of healing.

Those who do not believe in atonement healing, the health syndrome, are said to be ungodly, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. These are terms used in Scripture for the lost. Thus, they are saying those who do not accept their position are not Christians. Carried to its logical conclusion this means every person who becomes ill is lost. That is an egregious doctrinal error.

Believers who have relied on their faith in atonement healing and are not healed often lose faith all together. They feel God has not kept His promise. Persons having repented, believed, prayed, and declared Satan bound are disillusioned if God doesn’t heal them. They never consider they misunderstood His word.

Some engage in introspection that results in self-condemnation. Dismay and disillusion result in spiritual defeat.

Believers should do several things when ill. By all means pray. When we pray we ask God to do His part. Enlist others to pray if it is a serious illness. Seek proper medical treatment as soon as possible. When we do we are doing our part. Then relax in God’s grace and rely on His love. All that is expected by God has then been done. As a consequence God will act based on His love and wisdom. God heals based on these two factors.

The man with the withered hand who came to Christ is an example of healing in partnership (Mark 3). Jesus said to him, “Come here.” Jesus could have walked over to him and simply said, “Your arm is healed.” Instead He called for the man to act. Jesus further commanded, “Stretch out your hand.” In commanding the man He was calling on him to do his part: “You with the withered arm. You stretch out your hand.” Divine operation often waits on human cooperation.

Let those he chooses to heal rejoice and let those not healed suffer for the glory of God not being offended by His sovereign decision. He loves both. His sufficiency can be revealed through both. Paul’s thorn in the flesh was not removed. It was a grievous means by which God showed His grace to be sufficient even in adversity.

Jesus said sickness can be “for the glory of God” (John 11:4).
God still heals. Sometimes it is directly; supernaturally. Often it is through human means and modern medical treatment. It is sometimes immediately and at other times gradually, but He does heal. For some it is the ultimate healing we call death. Even that eventuates in the ultimate atonement healing spoken of in I Corinthians 15: 51-55.

Rejoice that even though He has not promised us perpetual health and life on this planet He has provided for us eternal life in His presence.

Anointing With Oil


All acts of God are based on His love and knowledge. He knows more than we and loves stronger. He is too wise not to know what is best for us in every instance. He is too loving not to do what is best for us.

In light of that, he heals some who are sick and/or injured and He does not others.

Appropriately, it is often asked, “What must I do to insure I have done all God intends for me to do regarding healing?” Some turn to James 5: 14, 15 for insight. Therein, believers are urged to engage in “anointing” with oil and “prayer.”

It should be noted that if a person is to be healed it is the “prayer of faith that shall save the sick.”

The question often emerges, “Should we anoint with oil?”

In the Greek text there are two words for “anoint.”

CHRIS is one. It is the root for the Greek name CHRISTOS, or our English name Christ. CHRISTOS means “The Anointed One.” In the Old Testament era prophets, priests, and kings were anointed by putting olive oil on their forehead. Christ is out Prophet, Priest, and King.

ALEPHO is the other word. It meant to massage or knead into the body. The material used was either olive oil or an ointment. Both had some of the best medicinal properties of the time.

The word translated “anoint” in James in ALEPHO. Therefore, if a person is going to do literally what the passage actually says, they should not put oil on the brow but massage the entire body with olive oil or an ointment.

What the text teaches is the use of the best medicine available. Such oil and ointments were among the best medicine of the time of the writing by James. Jewish Rabbis writing at the same time recorded their confidence in such treatment. In the story of the Good Samaritan the man who had been beaten was anointed with oil. It had a healing effect and stopped bleeding.

Based on what is actually taught in James it is not proper to simply put oil on the brow of a sick person and pray. The appeal made by James is for the best medicine available to be used along with prayer. Therefore, it is expedient that proper medical treatment be used. This is a commendation of the use of medicine. Christians should seek and use medical help.

Likewise, the urgent appeal in James is for prayer for the sick. Faithful Christians should privately and collectively pray.

Once these two things have been done the Christian can know all that God requires has been done. God’s response is then based on His love and knowledge. Confidently, persons having done what the Lord asks can be assured that whether their beloved is healed or not they did all God required by using the best medicine available and praying.

God’s response, though not always immediately understood, can be accepted with assurance knowing His action to be motivated by love and knowledge beyond our own. Therefore:

“Rejoice evermore, Pray without ceasing.
In everything give thanks.”
(I Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18)


A popular form of zealous prayer often offered by conscientious and earnest persons is for a “fresh anointing.” The intent is admirable and the act is broadly practiced, but it is not Scriptural.

In James 4:5 it is stated, “The Spirit that dwelleth in us…” it comes from a verb root meaning “to cause to take up residence.” At the moment of salvation the Holy Spirit is caused by God the Father to take up residence in the believer once and for all. I John 2:27 used the expression “to abide” in the sense of “to remain.”

John 14:17 lets us know that the Holy Spirit is placed within the believer. I Cor. 12:13 speaks of being baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ and makes it clear this happens to all believers at the moment of salvation.

The anointing with the Spirit is a Biblical reference to God the Father causing God the Holy Spirit to take up permanent residence in a believer at the moment of salvation. It takes place just once. It is never repeated.

Rather than pray for a fresh anointing, the intent of which is admirable, pray that a person or event might be filled with the Spirit. This is Scriptural. Even more simple language which is understood by people today is “May Christ control and direct this person (or event). May all that is done be within His will.” There are many ways to express this same basic concept.

Angels, Cherubim, And Seraphim

The word angel comes from the Greek word ANGELOS, meaning “messenger.” The corresponding Hebrew word is MALAKH also meaning “messenger.” The terms are sometimes used to designate human messengers (Hag. 1:13, Mal. 2:7), but most often are used to refer to supernatural, celestial beings.

To my limited knowledge the Bible does not describe them as having wings. Mythology and medieval art represent them as having wings, and thus a current concept is that they have wings.

Another form of supernatural, creating beings are cherubim. This word comes from the Greek, CHEROUBIM, or Hebrew, KRUBIM. Their primary task is that of serving as guards. They guard the way to the tree of life (Gen. 3:24), and either support or flank the throne of God (Psalm 80:1; 99:1).

Cherubim are spoken of as being winged. Their swiftness is spoken of as being like the wind. They were mysterious, heavenly beings represented under the form of winged lions with human faces (Ezek. 41:18ff).

Two wooden replicas of cherubim, gold covered and with wings outspread, were placed over the cover or “mercy seat” of the Ark of the Covenant, protecting the holy things.

Seraphim form a third order of celestial beings and are spoken of as being winged (Isaiah 6:2,3). The word is from the Hebrew SARAPH, in that they are mentioned only once in the Bible, and that is in the Old Testament. They appear to be attendants waiting to carry out the bequest of the Lord.

Most scholars consider these three orders as separate forms of created celestial beings.

Advantages Of Abortion

The most dangerous place to be in America today is in a mother’s womb. Every day over 4000 preborn babies are forcefully removed by a process called abortion.

“Webster’s Encyclopedia of Dictionaries” says abort(ion) means “to fail to bring to fruition.” Fruition as used here means the intended result. As applied to a human being it means a human life is not allowed to mature.

Some say the unborn is merely a fetus. What ever it is it is there and therefore a “being.” Because of it being there it is a being. It surely is not a non-being. It results from copulation by two human beings so it is human. It is not a nonentity or a non-human species; it is rather a preborn human being.

Proabortionists say it is merely fetal matter until it starts breathing. Using that narrow guideline consider this.

Dr. “Luke the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14) used the Greek word “brephos” for such an unborn infant. It meant “a breathing infant.” Doctor Luke used the same word to describe Christ after His birth. Naturally the question arises: How could a preborn be considered “a breathing thing?”

For years it had to be accepted by faith. Modern science has now helped our understanding. The answer is the fetus “breathes” and receives nourishment through the placenta. An example is found in a surgery known as “cardiopulmonary bypass.” During the procedure the lungs of the patient are artificially inflated to prevent them from collapsing. This does not oxygenate the blood during surgery. This has to be done by a separate mechanical process because during surgery the patient “breathes through the blood.” In like manner the preborn breathes through the placenta. This is a breathing human being.

King David wrote, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made, marvelous are your works” (Psalm 139:14).

That statement was made long before David had cause to know his body consisted of 30 trillion cells, each with twenty-three chromosomes all of which have memory. At the moment of conception the genes are present that determine whether you will be an ectomorph, a tall person; endomorph, fat person; or a mesomorph, in between. Innate in those genes at the instant of conception are the color of your hair, eyes, skin, sex and a gene that determines whether you will be a person who sleeps late or gets up early. Eighteen weeks later all the organs, fingers and toes are formed. A human being is in the process of coming to fruition.

The productivity of those 4000 aborted each day will never be known. Consider whether you would recommend aborting this preborn. The mother was pregnant with her fifth child. Her husband had syphilis, and she tuberculosis. Their first child was born blind. Their second child died shortly after birth. Their third child was deaf. Their fourth child had tuberculosis. Would you have aborted the fifth child?

If so, you just suggested aborting Ludwig van Beethoven and robbed the world of some of its best music.

Persons considering and abortion should ask themselves the question posed by the ancient prophet: “Shall I give my first-born for my transgressions, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:7)

There are viable alternatives to abortion. Compassionate help is available. Women’s Pregnancy Centers are available in most metropolitan areas. Local church can also be a source of assistance. Explore every option in order to avoid that which many persons retrospectively regret.

Oh, the advantages of abortion. There are none.