Ask Your Preacher
What is the first commandment of God?
Beginning At The Beginning
Dear Beginning At The Beginning,
Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matt 22:37-38). In the Ten Commandments, the first commandment is “you shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex 20:2). The first commandment a child is given by God is “honor your father and mother” (Eph 6:2). Each of these are first commands from God.
I have a friend who claims Christians must be baptized by full immersion. I was wondering why in Luke 11:38 when Jesus ate at a Pharisee’s house, "the Pharisee was astonished to see that He did not first wash [baptizo] before dinner." Since I'm pretty sure they did not practice full bodily immersion before dinner (tradition indicates that they just washed their hands), Scripture seems to indicate ‘baptizo’ can mean cleansing or ritual washing as well as immersion.
Also, in Ezek 36:25-27, "I will SPRINKLE clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols, I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you... and I will put My Spirit within you..." Doesn't this Old Testament verse pre-figure baptism?
Just A Dash Please
Dear Just A Dash Please,
The word ‘baptizo’ means ‘immersion’, but context tells us what is being immersed. In Lk 11:38, the Pharisees would immerse their hands in water to wash them. In Jhn 3:23, John the Baptist was immersing their entire bodies, and that is why he needed “much water”. The word doesn’t ever mean sprinkle, splash, or any other type of washing other than full immersion. In fact, the word ‘baptizo’ is the word that was used by sailors to describe a sunken ship because it had become immersed under the sea. Your friend is right; we do need to be baptized by full immersion.
As for the verse in Ezek 36:25-27, that is a reference to how God would cleanse the Jewish nation from idolatry. Ezekiel isn’t referring to literal sprinkling of water; he is referring to the lesson they would learn by spending seventy years in captivity. When Israel came out of captivity, they would have learned not to worship idols. Yes, that prophecy pre-dates the New Testament, but no, it doesn’t contradict or alter God’s command to be baptized (1 Pet 3:21, Acts 2:38, Mk 16:16).
The five miracles that the Scripture speaks of are: multiplying of the fish, turning water into wine, walking on water, raising the dead, and healing the sick. Now, if a person could preform one of these miracles, should they be able to do all of them? I know they can’t today… but in the first century. What were miracles for, and when did they stop? Thanks for the answers.
Stumped By Supernatural
Dear Stumped By Supernatural,
The Scriptures also talk about the miraculous ability to speak in different languages (Acts 2:4-6), prophetic wisdom and supernatural recall of events (Jhn 14:26), and a host of other things. Not everyone could perform every type of miracle. In fact, Paul specifically said that in the first century church, different people had different miraculous abilities (1 Cor 12:28-30). The gifts of the Holy Spirit were given to the apostles (Acts 2:1-4), and the apostles were able to pass on these gifts to others by laying their hands on them (Acts 8:18). The apostles were the only ones with the ability to pass on the gifts. Therefore, when the last person that the last living apostle laid hands on died… the gifts ceased to exist. God intended for this to happen.
Miracles were needed to prove that Jesus and His apostles were sent from God (Acts 14:3, Acts 2:22, Jhn 9:16). Miracles were used as a proof that what the disciples said was truly God’s Word (Acts 8:6). Now that we have the perfect and complete Bible, we no longer need those miracles – which was Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians. When the “perfect” of 1 Cor 13:8-10 happened, the church no longer needed miracles to further the message of Christ. After the Bible was completed, the church was able to fully see God’s message of salvation (1 Cor 13:12) without further need of prophecies and miracles.
Around the tomb of Jesus, why does it read that there were two angels in Luke 24:4 and John 20:12… but only one in Mark 16:5 and Matt 28:2-5?
Dear Head Count,
This is a great example of why we have multiple accounts of Jesus’ life. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all record the life of Christ, but they each do it from a different perspective, and they each emphasize different things. Luke and John pointed out both angels at the tomb, but Matthew and Mark only focused on the angel that spoke. This isn’t a contradiction; it is simply a matter of only including the details that are pertinent to their particular narrative. Matthew and Mark never said there was only one angel… they just talked about the angel that spoke because that was all that was important for their accounts.
My husband and I have really noticed a major increase in signs of the end times. It seems people are blatantly ignoring the truth. Do you think we as a society are living in the book of Revelation? Do you believe any of the seals have been opened? If so, which ones? Thanks!
Dear Mrs. Prepared,
There are a great many opinions about when the world will end, but the truth is nobody knows because God doesn’t say. God told the Thessalonians that the end would come “like a thief in the night” (1 Thess 5:2). If anything, the one thing you can count on is that it won’t be when people say it is. In truth, a christian shouldn’t worry about when the end will come… we should live every day like the end could be today.
Paul told the Thessalonians (who were quite fixated with the return of Christ) that they should live every day soberly, as if any day might be the day (1 Thess 5:4-6).
People have been using details from the book of Revelation to “predict” the end of time for centuries. Unfortunately, the book of Revelation has nothing to do with the end of time. Revelation is a book dedicated to what would “shortly come to pass” (Rev 1:1). Specifically, Revelation dealt with the coming persecution that the church of the first century was about to face. It is a figurative and symbolic book (Rev 1:1 – notice the word ‘signified’, that means ‘symbolic’) that God used to prepare those saints for the trials they had ahead of them (see our post “Left Behind” for more details). Using the book of Revelation to “forecast” the end of time is using the book out of context.
The other thing that we must be aware of is that every generation and every individual (us here at AYP included) is convinced that things are getting worse. Every generation has felt that things were getting so bad with the world that the end of the world must be soon. God warns us about the habit of constant pessimism (Eccl 7:10). There will come a time when the world is so wicked that God will destroy this earth, but that will only happen after He has given as much time as is needed for mankind to repent of their sins (2 Pet 3:9-10). Since we do not know when that day is, let us live every day with holy living and godliness (2 Pet 3:11-12).