Know Your Bible

VOL. 7                           April 20, 2008                           NO. 13

Immersed In Jesus

    When a person immerses himself in something, he totally surrounds himself with it. He spends time thinking about it and making plans around it. It occupies his mind, utilizes his energy and expends his resources. People can immerse themselves in many different things. Some are immersed in hobbies, recreation or sports such as hunting, fishing, college football, baseball, golf, racing, collecting, or gardening. Others are immersed in their work or school. Some are immersed in their children or grandchildren. When a person is seriously sick, it is easy to become immersed with health concerns.

    As Christians, "we were all baptized into one body" (1 Cor. 12:13). Most of us understand that the word "baptized" means "immersed." But what we may not have thought much about is the connection between being immersed in water and being immersed in Jesus. The apostle Paul puts it this way in Gal. 3:27: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." Those of us who have been "baptized into Christ" are to have put Him on like a garment. We are to be covered with Him -- immersed in Him.

    By itself, immersion in water does nothing to change a person's life. But when that immersion is the beginning of being overwhelmed with Jesus Christ, lives are truly changed. Baptism into Christ results in a person being raised to "walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17). This new life is one that is immersed in Jesus.

    Every sinner needs to be immersed in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38;22:16). But every one who is immersed in water is thus obligated to live a new life immersed in Jesus. Are you immersed in Him? "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts" (Romans 13:14).

---Steve Klein

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"I'm Not An Issue Oriented Preacher"

    We (elders at Holly Street in Denver, Co.) receive a number of support requests from preachers. Some of these requests provide explanation as to why they think we should financially support them. One says he has been preaching twenty years; another he is good at conducting home Bible studies; and still another mentions that he is not an issue oriented preacher. This latter qualification is one that we want to discuss in this article.

    At first glance, some might be impressed with the qualification, "I am not an issue oriented preacher." I think most elders and churches do not want, understandably so, a preacher who is sour, bitter, and cannot address any matter that does not have a negative primary connotation. However, such is not what is meant by, "I am not an issue oriented preacher." The full explained and provided qualification is, "I am not an issue oriented preacher. I have never caused problems or division in a local church were I have preached and I do not intend to in the future. I promote love, peace, and unity and not quarreling over such doctrinal matters as the deity of Jesus, how the church treasury may be used, and marriage, divorce, and marriage to another."

    The above explanation and requisite just eliminated the apostles Paul and John, for sure. Paul practiced addressing the needs of his audience. When in Athens, a city "...wholly given to idolatry," he preached, you guessed it, on idolatry (Acts 17: 16ff.). When Paul wrote his first epistle to the church at Corinth, he dwelt on their problems, ranging from preoccupation with secular knowledge, harboring a fornicator, allowing sinful lawsuits; marriage and divorce issues, etc. (1 Cor. 1-4; 5; 6; 7). Paul even wrote to them how in such an environment, division has its place and a positive result and must be (1 Cor. 11:19).

    One of the paramount issues of the first century was the role and position of the Law of Moses, especially pertaining to Gentiles who became Christians. A careful study of the focus of many of Paul's epistles reveals that he over and over treated this subject and in no uncertain terms, showed from argumentation that those who bound the Law of Moses for salvation were not to be tolerated (Acts 15; Galatians; Hebrews; Romans).

    The apostle John was especially focused on the issue of Jesus' deity. Theology 101, if you will, shows how John's gospel especially considered Jesus' nature and manner relative to Jesus being The Logos (John 1:1ff.). John's Gospel is the gospel of belief, belief in the fact of Jesus' deity (John 20:30,31). The entire First Epistle of John addressed itself to the issue of Jesus' deity from the perspective of Gnosticism, a belief system that would later be fully developed, having one of its tenets being the denial that "Jesus Christ came in the flesh" (cp. 1 John 4:1-3). John concentrated his writing on how Jesus, the Son of God, had to be obeyed, honored, and revered and that all who denied this were false and to be opposed; thus, condemning the proponents and essential tenets of Gnosticism (1 John 2:1-6).

    In fact, study the New Testament from the standpoint of emphasized teaching and themes and you will find that just about every one of these themes was a hot issue among the people of that time period. Jesus did not hesitate to enter into the marriage, divorce, and marriage to another issue of his day and cogently taught the truth, without aligning himself with any party as such (Matt. 19: 3-9). Please do not misunderstand or apply what I am saying: I am not advocating tunnel focus; that is, only seeing one issue when there are many. I am submitting that the Spirit led writers of the New Testament dealt with all the issues in a fearless and courageous manner. If you were to extract all the teaching resident in the New Testament that would fall under the type of dealing with contemporary issues, the New Testament would probably consist of a book about fifteen chapters in size.

    Please allow me to be plain: Preachers among us such as the one who sent us the request for support letter in which he sought to favorably present himself as not being an "issue oriented preacher" are not worthy of the support of brethren, either in terms of money or fellowship. They are back-slapping politicians who go about the business of promoting hypocritical ecumenical unity that is false and precludes true unity, the aggressively doctrinal unity taught in the New Testament (Eph. 4:1-6; 1 Cor. 1:10).

    The preacher who sent us the request for support letter herein mentioned may very well be reading this article (I hope he is). If so, we were not impressed with his credentials. We would also urge him to repent and either start preaching the gospel of Jesus or get out of preaching! "I cannot do what you describe in your article because I am still studying the issues," some say. I do not buy such. I would recommend to these men that they cease full time preaching and do not resume until they have studied the issues and come to an understanding of the truth (many such men have said such for twenty plus years). Even if these men are not directly teaching error relative to the prevailing doctrinal aberrations of a given period, they are creating stagnant churches by not being able themselves to forcefully preach the truth and lead the church where they labor. In closing, I am an issue oriented preacher. I shall with God's help continue to preach "...all the counsel of God" and be "...instant in season, out of season" (Acts 20:27; 2 Tim. 4:2). How about you, my brother? Elders and churches that are looking for men who are not "issue oriented preachers," need to take down the sign, "The church of Christ Meets Here" and honestly have their own social clubs, bring in the piano, and openly engage in their selfishness and human religion and cease pretending to be Christians!

---Don Martin

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