Baptism

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Introduction

The word baptize is from the Greek word baptidzo which means to identify or to be made one with. In early Greek, the word had both religious and secular meanings. In general, it refers to the act of identifying one thing with another thing in such a way that its nature or character is changed, or it represents the idea that a real change has already taken place.

As a reference to identification, baptize means to place a person or thing into a new environment, or into union with some one or something else, so as to alter his or its condition or relationship to the previous environment.

There are seven types of baptism mentioned in the Bible. Four of these are real baptisms and three are ritual baptisms.

Real Baptisms

  • The Baptism of Moses
  • The Baptism of the Cross or Cup
  • The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
  • The Baptism of Fire

Ritual Baptisms

  • The Baptism of John
  • The Baptism of Jesus
  • The Baptism of the Christian Believer

These seven baptisms are described in the sections below.

Real Baptisms

A baptism is called real if it involves actually identifying a person with something or someone.

The Baptism of Moses

The baptism of Moses was a double identification, the children of Israel are identified both with Moses and with the cloud (Jesus Christ) as they passed through the Red Sea. No water involved and remember, they went through the sea on dry land when the waters were parted. 1 Cor. 10:1, 2.

The Baptism of the Cross or Cup

Jesus Christ drank the cup filled with our sins. Another way of expressing it is that all the sins of the world were put into one cup and poured out on Christ while He was on the cross. God the Father judged our sins while they were on Christ. Christ was identified with our sin and He bore our sins on the cross. He was made sin for us. 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24.

In Matt. 20:22 Jesus speaks of the cup he is to drink as he makes a reply to the mother of Zebedee’s children. In Matt. 26:39, He prays to the Father to “let this cup pass from me . . .” Nevertheless, He determined to drink from the cup, as seen in John 18:11, “the cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink from it?”

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a real baptism. When a person accepts Christ as savior, he is placed into the body of Christ. He is identified as a believer. The mechanics are given in 1 Cor. 12:13.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit did not occur in Old Testament times. The first occurrence was on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit placed the new believers into the body of Christ.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the basis for positional truth. Believers are placed in Christ, and in this position have access to many kinds of privileges and blessings. Ephesians 1 has a good description of what it means to have “all blessings in heavenly places in Him.”

The baptism of the Holy Spirit was prophesied by John the Baptist, Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16. And it was prophesied by Jesus Christ, John 14:16, 17; Acts 1:5.

The implications of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, for all believers in the family of God, are given in Gal. 3:26-28.

The principle of retroactive identification with Christ is brought out in Rom. 6:3, 4 and Col. 2:12.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not an experience. It is not accompanied by speaking in tongues or any other kind of feeling or behavior. The things that happen to believers at the moment of salvation are accomplished by the Holy Spirit, not by us, and these things are not experiences.

The Baptism of Fire

A judgment is coming at the second coming of Christ when all nonbelievers are taken from the earth. They will join the rest of the unbelievers in torments also called Sheol, Hades and Hell to wait for the last judgment also called the great white throne judgment described in Revelation 20 at the end of the millennium. This removal of unbelievers for judgment is the baptism of fire.

Fire is a symbol for judgment all through the Bible. Examples are the fire which burned the sacrifice on the Hebrew altar and the fire from God which burned the watered down sacrifices of Elijah and the prophets of Baal.

The doctrine of the baptism of fire is stated in Matt. 3:11, 12; Luke 3:16, 17; and 2 Thess. 1:7-9.

The Lord Jesus taught several parables regarding the end times when believers and unbelievers will be separated. The believers are to go into the millennium, the unbelievers are cast off into fire. These parables are analogies to the baptism of fire.

Wheat and tares – Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43.

Good and bad fish – Matt. 13:47-50.

The wise and foolish virgins – Matt. 25:1-13

The sheep and the goats – Matt. 25:31-46

Ritual Baptisms

A baptism is called a ritual baptism, or a ceremonial baptism, when water is used as a symbol for something else. It is a representative identification. The individual is placed in the water, which means, symbolically, that he is identified with that which the water represents.

The Baptism of John – Matt. 3:6-11

Here the water is symbolic of the kingdom of God which John was preaching. When a person was baptized by John, he was testifying to his faith in the Messiah and his identification with Christ’s kingdom. The new believer was identified with the water, but the water represented a spiritual identification.

The phrase kingdom of God is a general term referring to all believers from the time of Adam until the end of the millennium. At the time of John the Baptist, all believers were pre church age Christians, although many lived on into the church age which began at the day of Pentecost.

The Baptism of Jesus

When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, water was symbolic of God’s will in salvation, namely that Jesus would go to the cross.

Believer’s Baptism

Believer’s baptism is a symbolic act in which a believer proclaims his union with Jesus Christ. It represents death to sin, to the old way of life and resurrection to a new spiritual life in Christ (Rom 6:3, 4; Col 2:11-12, Titus 3:5).

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Aquila and Priscilla

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Aquila and his wife Priscilla were Jews and natives of Pontus. Their occupation was tent making. They had fled from Rome to Corinth when the emperor Claudius had commanded all Jews to leave that city. When Paul came to Corinth, he found them and stayed with them for some time, working with them at the trade of tent making.

Later, when Paul was opposed by the Jews, and perhaps to remove any obstacle to his reception by the Gentiles, he left the house of Aquila and dwelled with a man named Justus.

It is not clear when Aquila and Priscilla became Christians, but it was certainly before Paul left Corinth, because they traveled with him to Ephesus. Paul was able to teach them a great deal about Christ in a short time, because we see Aquila and Priscilla giving instruction to Apollos in Ephesus (Acts 18). They appear to have been zealous promoters of the cause of Christ in Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:19).

Acts 18:2, “And he [Paul] found a certain Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them,”

Acts 18:18, “And Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila. In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow.”

Acts 18:26, “and he [Apollos] began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”

Aquila and Priscilla later returned to Rome, and their home there was a place of assembly for believers. See Romans 16:3 and following verses.

Some years after that they seem to have returned to Ephesus, because Paul sends salutations to them there during his second imprisonment at Rome (2 Tim. 4:19), as being with Timothy.

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Edification

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One of the words in the Bible used to describe Christian growth is edification. Edification is the process of spiritual growth in a Christian who is living according to the plan of God and who is fulfilling the command to grow in the grace and in knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The Greek word which is translated edification is οικοδομη(oikodome), a noun found in a number of New Testament passages:

Rom. 14:19

2 Cor. 10:8; 13:10

Eph. 4:12, 16

1 Cor. 14:5, 12

In all these passages, edification has two meanings.

  • Collectively it refers to the building up of the body of Christ. In Eph. 4:16, you can see that the edification of individuals results in the building up of the church.
  • For individual believers, edification refers to the spiritual growth and momentum in the Christian way of life, resulting in the glorification of God.
  • When the collective connotation is used, oikodome should be translated “construction, building up or building process”. When the individual connotation is used, oikodome should be translated “edification”.

To grow in Christ, a Christian must be consistent on a daily basis in staying in fellowship with the Lord through confession of sin, and learning and applying Bible teaching.

Edification is the means of advancement and productivity in the Christian way of life.

Doctrine that is learned must feed both the human spirit and the human soul for capacity for both human and eternal life. Edification of the soul is the result.

Love is the means of reaching maturity and being edified. This is growing in applied knowledge. 1 Cor. 8

The growth of Christian love is a sign that a person has been learning and applying doctrine. “By their fruit you shall know them…” The fruit of the spirit is a result of edification.

Personal love for God the Father is motivation for the reception of Bible doctrine.

Impersonal love for all mankind is functional love. It gives one the ability to listen objectively to a pastor teacher regardless of his personality.

Occupation with the person of Christ is the ultimate result of love.

Synonyms for Edification

  • The word light is not listed in Ephesians 5
  • Christ formed in you . . .” Gal 4:19, connotes edification.
  • The new man . . .” Eph 4:24; Col 3:10, refers to edification
  • The perfect man . . .” James 1:4.
  • Imitators of God . . .” Eph 5:1

The Importance of the Pastor’s Teaching in Edification

The responsibility of the pastor in edification is found in a number of passages.

2 Cor. 10:8, “For even if I should boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I shall not be put to shame,”

The Corinthians wavered so much that Paul really had to get tough with them and throw his rank around.

The Corinthians were reacting to Paul’s authority and so were doing many things detrimental to their spiritual life.

Our authority refers to those with the communication gifts of pastor teacher as well as apostleship, e.g., Apollos and Timothy. The pastor establishes his authority through the communication of doctrine.

Paul makes it clear that edification depends upon accepting the authority of a pastor teacher who communicates doctrinal information.

2 Cor. 13:10, “For this reason, I am writing these things while absent, in order that when I am present, I may not use severity in compatibility with the authority which God has given to me for the purpose of your edification, and not for the purpose of destroying you.”

No one can learn any subject without accepting the authority of the one who teaches.

Therefore, the importance of understanding that edification comes through the teaching of a pastor in communicating the mystery doctrine of the church age.

1 Thess. 5:12, “But we request of you, brethren, that you respect those pastor teachers who work hard among you [studying and teaching], who have command over you in the Lord and give you instruction.”

The road to edification is paved with hundreds and thousands of lessons regarding the plan of God.

Heb. 13:17, “Keep obeying those who themselves are ruling over you, and submit to their authority , for these same keep watching for the benefit of your souls as those who have to render an account. Keep obeying them, in order that they may do this accounting with joy, and not with groaning, for this is unprofitable for you.”

The threefold purpose of the pastor is found in Eph. 4:12, “for the purpose of equipping the saints, for the production of Christian service, for the edification of the body of Christ.

  • The “saints” refer to the family of God with emphasis on the baptism of the Spirit.
  • Equipping the saints refers to God’s grace policy and provision for the execution of the His plan.
  • Equipping is the function of the pastor who, through teaching doctrine, is able to see people grow and become mature, productive Christians.

All believers are in full time Christian service from the moment of their salvation. Christian service is the normal result of spiritual growth but never the means.

Eph. 4:16, “From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

Body function depends upon the proper use of joints. Athletic coordination depends upon the proper use of the joints.

The result of the communication of doctrine is edification in your soul.

The Motivation of the Believer in Edification

There are two categories of motivation: positive volition and humility

Positive volition is expressed in Rom. 14:19. Consequently, we run after those things related to prosperity and edification.

Running, not walking, expresses positive volition toward the doctrines of the church age, which gives us all the details regarding God’s plan, purpose, and will for our lives after salvation.

This includes the learning, understanding, and application of the mystery doctrine of the church age as the means of executing the plan of God.

Prosperity and edification go together; both are the result of continual positive volition.

In order for consistent perception of doctrine to occur, it is important to have a mental attitude of humility.

Rom. 12:2-5, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

“For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,”

“so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

The standard of thinking from doctrine includes every aspect of divine viewpoint, orientation to life through enforced and genuine humility and everything that makes us objective and teachable toward the word of God.

Many members in one body emphasizes that although we have different spiritual gifts and different personalities, we all belong to one family, the body of Christ.

Without genuine humility, there is neither objectivity nor teachability. Without objectivity and teachability in life, you will be miserable, whether you are a believer or unbeliever, successful or not. Without objectivity and teachability, there is no edification.

Edification: The Key to the Proper Function of the Local Church

1 Cor 14:12, “So also you, since you are eager to have the function of spiritual gifts, seek to abound in spiritual gifts that edify the church.”

Comments:

  • The Corinthians were all eager to get the gift of tongues because it was spectacular, and then they could assume they were spiritual. In reality, the worst believers in the Bible are described as having the gift of tongues.
  • Seek to abound means you should give precedence to those spiritual gifts which result in edification. The primary spiritual gift in this category is the gift of pastor teacher.
  • The precanon temporary gifts did not edify the church.

1 Cor 14:26, “What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”

There are a number of ways in which we worship God, but they must all relate to our spiritual growth. Everything in assembly worship should be done with a view toward the objective, which is edification. The objective is to communicate the word of God, the purpose of which is to produce edification.

The key to the correct function of the local church is edification. Edification, or the advance to spiritual maturity, is the objective of the Christian way of life.

In the context of 1 Cor. 14, the gift of tongues did not fulfill that purpose. 1 Cor 14:40 concludes that the gift of tongues did not do “all things properly and in an orderly manner.

The gift of tongues illustrated how not to do things decently and in order. For tongues did not contribute to the principle of edification, nor did it contribute to doing things properly and in an orderly manner.

The Results of Edification

You begin with a foundation of eternal salvation and a body of teaching, the revealed scriptures, built upon the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.

The moment you personally believed in Jesus Christ, a foundation was constructed, comprised of the many things from God. The foundation is Jesus Christ.

The foundation is constructed on the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross, Please see Grace Notes topics: redemption, propitiation, reconciliation, imputation and justification.

2 Tim. 2:19, “Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal; the Lord knows those who are His. . . .”

1 Cor. 3:11, “No one can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

With edification you become spiritually self sustaining and you function under the privacy of your priesthood to resolve your own problems, including the greatest problems in life.

Problems are resolved in two ways: through the use of the biblical problem solving devices, and through understanding of specific principles in the word of God. Please see Grace Notes topics: confession of sin; faith rest; occupation with Christ.

Edification Motivates Believers

Edification is the motivation in the function of love in the congregation, through which tolerance provides room for spiritual growth.

Rom. 15:2, “Let each of us accommodate his neighbor for the good to edification.”

1 Cor. 10:23, “All things are lawful, but all things do not edify.”

Acts 9:31, “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and, going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.”

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Truth

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The Word of God is TRUTH

The Lord Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man comes unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6) Any desire to be occupied with Christ, and to serve Him, must be accompanied by a great desire for the truth, the Word of God. The acquiring of truth must be the highest priority.

There are many Bible passages that deal with the concept of truth; here is a sampling:

Psalm 86:11, “Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth; unite my heart to fear thy name.”

Psalm 119:72, “The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.”

Also Psalm 119:127,162.

Prov. 23:23, “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.”

Examples of eagerness for truth:

The temple worshippers:

Luke 21:37, 38 “Now during the day He was teaching in the temple, but at evening He would go out and spend the night on the mount that is called Olivet. And all the people would get up early in the morning to come to Him in the temple to listen to Him.

The Samaritans:

John 4:39-42, “And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified,”He told me all the things that I have done.” So when the Samaritans came to Him, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Cornelius:

Acts 10:30-33 And Cornelius said, “Four days ago to this hour, I was praying in my house during the ninth hour; and behold, a man stood before me in shining garments, and he said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and invite Simon, who is also called Peter, to come to you; he is staying at the house of Simon the tanner by the sea.’”And so I sent to you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”

The Bereans:

Acts 17:10-13, “And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. But when the Jews of Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul in Berea also, they came there likewise, agitating and stirring up the crowds.

Other passages to read:

Col. 1:9-23; 2:1-8

Eph. 1:17-23; 3:14-19; 4:11-16.

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The Rapture

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The word rapture refers to an event which will mark the end of the Church Age and which will be an occasion of great joy to Christian believers. All believers, both those who have died and those who are alive at the time, will be taken up to meet Jesus Christ, who will have returned to “the air”, earth’s atmosphere. Then, the Christians and the Lord Jesus will return to heaven together. At the time of the Rapture, Christ will not set foot on earth; and He will be visible only to believers. READ 1 Thess. 4:17; Acts 1:11.

The Rapture is to be distinguished from the Second Advent of Christ. While the Rapture sets the stage for the Second Coming, these are two separate events. A chart giving comparisons between these two future appearances of Christ is found in a later section of this article.

There has been controversy for many generations concerning the timing of the final events in human history. The position held by the majority of categorical and fundamental Bible teachers is as follows:

  • We are presently in the dispensation known as the Church Age, and we do not know when this age will end.
  • The Rapture will occur at the end of the Church Age; and the day of the Rapture will be the first day of the sever-year period known as the Great Tribulation.
  • The Second Coming of Christ will occur on the last day of the Tribulation period and will usher in the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ.

The statements above are part of a position, or viewpoint, concerning the chronology of the final events of human history, a doctrinal concept known as the Pre–Tribulation Rapture / Pre–Millennium Tribulation view. There are several other schools of though among Christian scholars; and this article does not attempt to sort out the differences in these viewpoints categorically.

The study of the various points of view, and an examination of the proofs that the Pre-Tribulation/Pre-Millennial position is the correct one, is indeed a fascinating study. But the students needs considerable background to handle such research, including a thorough knowledge of general prophecy, a good general orientation to the whole Bible, and a lot of practice in tracing threads of logic through interwoven networks of Bible doctrine. For the time being we will settle for …

A Description of the Rapture

The Rapture was promised by the Lord Jesus Christ just before His crucifixion, John 14:1–3. At the Rapture, He keeps His promise and fulfills the prophecy. The Rapture completes the Redemption of the body because the believer receives a resurrection body at that time, Phil. 3:20,21; 1 John 3:1,2. It would be useful at this point to read the description of the Rapture in 1 Cor. 15:51–53 and then to note the comments below concerning the terminology used.

mystery – a doctrine “hidden” from the Old Testament saints. The Rapture is pertinent only to the Church Age and was never revealed to believers living before the beginning of the Church Age.

we shall not all sleep — i.e., there will be some believers alive at the time of the Rapture.

we shall all be changed – refers to the resurrection body.

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye – a reference to the time element. The Rapture is not a long, drawn out process of evacuation. We will be with Christ instantly.

the dead shall be raised incorruptible – the resurrection body does not include the decay and corruption of sin and death.

we shall all be changed – another reference to the new physical body and new personal attributes associated with the resurrection body.

this corruptible must put on incorruption -the most important feature of the resurrection body is that there will be no Sin Nature.

this mortal must put on immortality – the believer will not die but will receive an immortal body.

The dead in Christ (believers who have died previous to the Rapture) will be raised first. Then, those who are still alive will be taken up. 1 Thess. 4:16,17.

The Rapture is a rendezvous for living and dead Christians. Confidence in the Rapture is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Thess. 4:18.

In principle, the Lord Jesus Christ is the “first fruits” of the believer, as noted in 1 Cor. 15:20–23. Read this passage first, then note the following comments:

firstfruits – pictures the resurrection of Christ which is a guarantee of our bodily resurrection.

by man came death – through Adam came spiritual death with the end result of physical death for every human.

by man came also the resurrection – by Jesus Christ, in His humanity, came spiritual resurrection (salvation) followed by physical resurrection, Phil. 3:21.

The word “hope”, translated from the Greek word ἐλπίς (elpis), meaning “confidence”, is a technical designation for the Rapture in at least three Bible passages, including:

  • The living hope, 1 Peter 1:3
  • The blessed hope, Titus 2:13
  • The purifying hope, 1 John 3:3

The Rapture takes the sting out of death, 1 Cor. 15:54–56. Therefore, the Rapture removes the despair of bereavement, 1 Thess. 4:13–18. This confidence in the Rapture comes through the obtaining of wisdom, discernment, and knowledge of the Plan of God, Job 19:25–27. The edified believer has confidence. The result is blessing, peace, a relaxed mental attitude, and stability.

The believer has a “reservation” in heaven, 1 Peter 1:4; Eph. 2:6. The Rapture takes the believer to the “mansion” which Christ has prepared in advance, John 14.

The testing which the believer and the Church endure during the Church Age is terminated with the Rapture. The Body of Christ is no longer a target of Satan in spiritual warfare.

It is not known, and cannot be predicted, when the Rapture will occur. Nevertheless, the Bible directs us to pursue certain activities while waiting for the Rapture. These are given in the last section of this article. Meanwhile, take a look at …

What to do While Waiting for the Rapture

Stay in Fellowship. “And now, little children, abide in Him; that when He shall appear, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” 1 John 2:28

Employ the Faith-Rest techniques. “Now we beseech you, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by forged letters as from us, as that day of Christ is at hand.” 2 Thess. 2:1,2

Have Confidence. “Being confident of this very things, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil. 1:6

Have Patience. “Be patient, therefore, unto the coming of the Lord…” James 5:7

Grow in Christ by continuing to be edified. “…be ye also patient, stablish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” James 5:8 See also Isaiah 33:4 and 2 Tim. 2:15

Contrasts Between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ

The Rapture

The Second Coming of Christ

Only believers see Christ. The Rapture is private. Heb. 9:28; Acts 1:11

Every eye shall see Him. The Second Coming of Christ is public. Rev. 1:7

Christ meets believers in the air, 1 Thess. 4:17

Christ sets foot on the Mount of Olives, Zech. 14:4

Believers are taken off the earth, John 14:3

Unbelievers are taken off the earth, Mt. 24:37f

Believers go to heaven, 1 Thess. 4:17

At the Second Coming, believers come back to earth with Christ, 1 Thess. 3:13; Col. 3:4;, 2 Thess 4:13; Zech. 14:5

There is no timetable for the Rapture

The Second Coming is seven years after the Rapture, Matt. 24:29-30

Believers are rewarded. 1 Cor. 3:11-15; Rev. 22:12

Unbelievers are judged at the Second Coming; the Baptism of Fire takes place, Matt. 25:31,32,46

The Rapture is a source of comfort to the believer, 1 Thess. 4:18

The Second Coming of Christ is a source of terror for the unbeliever, Rev. 6:15-17

There are no changes in nature associated with the Rapture

There are many changes in nature associated with the Second Coming, Isa. 35

The world is not judged at the Rapture.

The people of the world are judged, Jude 15

The Rapture is a mystery of the Church Age, 1 Cor. 15:51

The Second Coming is the subject of extensive prophecy in the Old Testament.

The unconditional covenants such as those with Abraham and David are not fulfilled at the Rapture.

The covenants are fulfilled at the Second Coming; Israel inherits her possessions.

There is no dealing with Satan or demons at the Rapture.

At the Second Coming, Satan is bound for a thousand years, Rev. 20:2.

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Servants and Slaves in Palestine

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Some people, called hirelings, were employed for wages in ancient Palestine (Job 7:1; 14:6; Mark 1:20). But most of the servants of the Israelites, as well as those of other eastern peoples of Old Testament times, were slaves or indentured servants. Men and women who were held as property for various reasons and for various lengths of time. Some slaves were bought from neighboring nations or from foreign residents of Canaan. Some were captives taken in war. Some were children of slaves who were born in the house of the master. A slave might himself be a Hebrew who, through poverty, sold himself into servitude until he got back on his feet.

Slavery among the Hebrews was usually a mild and merciful system. The Bible, while it recognizes that slavery exists, does not approve or disapprove of the practice. Numerous standards were set up in the Law for the regulation of slavery and servitude, with laws which regulated both the conditions and the duration of the bondage.

One source of slavery was absolutely forbidden. It was punishable by death to steal or kidnap a human being for the purpose of making him a slave or to sell him to someone else as a slave. This regulation applied to Israelite and foreigner alike.

Deut. 24:7, “If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and makes merchandise of him, or sells him; then that thief shall die; and you shall put evil away from among you.”

 

Exo. 21:16, “And he that steals a man, and sells him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall be surely put to death.”

 

The Treatment of Servants

Each Israelite was considered to be a servant of God. Therefore, he was not to be treated as a bond servant, but as a hired worker; and his master was to rule over him with kindness.

Lev. 25:39-41, “And if thy brother that dwells by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bond servant; But as a hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee: And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return.”

There were several ways that a Hebrew could become the servant of his brethren:

  • The Israelite, through poverty, might become unable to manage his own affairs or to maintain himself as an independent citizen. In this case he might pass by sale under the power of another. The passage in Lev. 25:39 ff, which lays down the law in these matters, does not imply that such a sale was compulsory. It is understood to mean that the individual sold himself or rather, he sold the rights to his labor to another Jew, so that he might be able to earn subsistence for himself and his family.
  • A Hebrew who had been convicted of theft was required to make restitution to the extent of at least double the value of the amount stolen if the stolen property itself was recovered. In other cases he was to pay four or five times as much as he stole also note the case of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:8. If the thief could not make the required restitution, he was sold for his theft and he made restitution by his labor.

Exod. 22:1-3, “If a man shall steal …If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.”

  • Children of a Hebrew servant became, by condition of their birth, became servants of the master (Exod. 21:4).
  • When a man was claimed personally by a creditor, his children were usually sold into bondage with him. While the impoverished man might sell himself into servitude, it was only to work off his debt until the jubilee year. 2 Kings 4:1; Neh. 5:5; Isa. 50:1; Job 24:9.

Every Israelite, male or female, who had become a slave, might be redeemed at any time by relatives or friends by the payment of what was owed. In any case, even if he were not redeemed, he was to be released after six years of service; and he was to be given a present of food and cattle (Exod. 21:2; Deut. 15:12-14). If he brought a wife into service with him, she was to be freed with him. However, if his master had provided him with a wife, the master could require the wife to stay when the man left. The children of such a marriage stayed with the master (Exod. 21:3; Jer. 34:8 ff).
If the Hebrew servant, for love of his wife and children or other reason, preferred not to accept freedom in the seventh year or when his obligation was completed, he was brought before the elders of the community and had his ear pierced as a token of his willingness to give life long servitude to his master (Exod. 21:6; Deut. 15:17).

If a Jew were to become the slave of a Gentile, the servitude could be terminated in two ways. First, it could be terminated by the arrival of the year of jubilee. Second, the servant could be released by payment to the master of the purchase price less the value of the services rendered, based upon the pay scale of a hired laborer (Lev. 25:47-54).

During the time that the slave was possessed by his master, the master had certain power of disposing of him as he would other articles of personal property. He could, for example, leave the servant to his heirs. The servant was said to have a certain monetary value, that is, his labor had a money value; but he was not supposed to be thought of as chattel.

A slave could be freed in one of four ways:

  • By redemption through the payment of money or goods.
  • By manumission, a bill or ticket of freedom issued by the master.
  • By testamentary disposition; the master could specify that the slave was to be freed upon the master’s death, for example.
  • By any act that implied that the slave was a free citizen, such as making an heir of one’s slave.

The Law had several means for the protection of slaves or servants. A servant was entitled to full religious privilege and access to all religious functions and practices, such as sacrifices, Passover and other feasts, circumcision, etc. He was to be given a day of rest on the Sabbath. He was to receive his liberty if the case of some grievous injury such as loss of eye or limb. See other passages: Gen. 17:12; Exod. 12:44; 20:11; 21:20, 26, 27; Lev. 24:17, 22; Deut. 5:14 ff; 12:12, 18.

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Servants of God

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God commands Christians to be faithful and obedient servants.

Deut. 10:12 “And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”

Micah 6:8 “He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord required of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Psalm 100:2 “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing.”

Josh. 24:14,15

Service is to be rendered as unto the Lord Jesus Christ, John 12:23-26

Col. 3:24 “Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”

The believer’s service is to be rendered to people.

Christian service makes life noble.

Mark 10:43,44 “But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”

Christian service exemplifies neighborliness.

Luke 10:36,37

Christian service is Christ-like, John 13:1-17

Christian service demonstrates love, John 21:15-17

Christian service lightens life’s burdens, Gal. 5:13-15; Gal. 6:1-10; Acts 20:17-20; Heb. 10:23-25

The place of worship and the place of service. We also “assemble” for service. The Body functions as a congregation.

As God’s servants, believers have specific responsibilities.

Christians are to leave all to follow Christ.

Phil. 3:7,8 “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may win Christ.”

Believers are to render undivided service.

1 Chron. 15:10-15

1 Sam. 7:3 “And Samuel spoke unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only; and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only.”

Believers are to serve with humility, Acts 20:18,19

Believers are to serve with courage.

Deut. 1:17 “Ye shall not respect persons in judgment, but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man, for the judgment is God’s; and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me [Moses], and I will hear it.”

Prov. 29:25 “The fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.”

Examples of faithful service

The Lord Jesus Christ served men.

Phil. 2:7 “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”

Godly men served the Lord by serving other men.

  • Peter and Andrew, Mark 1:17,18
  • Zaccheus, Luke 19:6 ff
  • Paul, Acts 9:20

The rewards of faithful service

The faithful servant gains spiritual knowledge.

Hos. 6:3 “Then shall we know, Lord; his gome unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”

The faithful servant gains divine viewpoint.

John 8:12 “Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

The faithful servant has spiritual guidance.

John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me.”

The faithful servant receives honor from God.

John 12:26 “If any man serve me, let him fol­low me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor.”

The faithful servant has a life of joy.

Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.”

John 4:36 “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal, that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.”

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