Psalm #2 – A Cosmic War

Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!’ He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain. I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, you shall shatter them like earthenware.’ Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2)

This psalm is the first of the so-called Messianic psalms, meaning that it speaks prophetically about the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the anointed One. It is a testimony to the divine inspiration of the Scriptures. Jesus Himself said that the psalms spoke of Him. In Luke 24:44 we read, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled“. This psalm talks about Jesus as the Son of God, His office as king over heaven and earth, and that they will wage war against Him. If you read the psalm carefully you will see that it is build up in four parts, and that each part is a different voice.

The Voice of the Nations
Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!‘” (Psalm 2:1-3)
Their is a fight going on. The kings of the earth have taken their stand and counsel together against God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. You could say this began in the time of Babel when men took counsel together, thinking that when mankind is united they have a better change against God. This is also seen in the Book of Acts when the first persecution broke out against the church, we’re told that the apostles, Peter and John, after they had been threatened, returned back to the church to give their report. Here is this movement, beginning when Pilate joined up with the religious rulers and Herod in order to put Jesus to death. This is a movement against God and Christ, and it is heading for a climax. In Acts 4:24-28 we read, “And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, ‘O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and that is in them, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, ‘why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples devise futile things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.’ For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” This is obviously a vain thing to do, thinking that you can win from God. Yet Satan thought he could do it, and Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Matthew 12:30), and so the vain thing is very much a reality we have to deal with.

And what are the shackles and cords that is talked about? Those who oppose the Lord think of God that He is someone who brings bondage. The Ten Commandments, the rule of the Law of the Old Testament, marriage, heterosexuality can all be considered, by the unbeliever, cords by which we are bound. Yet Paul says, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:22-23). And Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17), and in answer to the question what the greatest commandment in the Law is, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38). To love the Lord is freedom. Freedom from the bondage of sin (freedom from “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” (1 John 2:16)), and freedom from eternal punishment and wrath.

The Voice of the Father
He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain” (Psalm 2:4-6)
I love this verse. God looks at man and how he tries to plot against Him, and just laughs. He’s not afraid, confused or depressed. He laughs. He isn’t pacing back and forth in the throne room of heaven, wondering what He should do next. He laughs. God sits in perfect peace and assurance, yet doesn’t remain inactive. He laughs, but not only laughs. He takes action. Yet before He acts, He speaks. I think great mmercy is shown by God here. He has every reason to act against man, but in His love and mercy He speaks a word of warning. He speaks of a way out. He has set a king upon His holy mountain, Jesus! A beautiful passage can be found in Isaiah which is worth mentioning here. “I have not spoken in secret, in some dark land; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in a waste place’; I, the LORD, speak righteousness, declaring things that are upright. Gather yourselves and come; draw near together, you fugitives of the nations; they have no knowledge, who carry about their wooden idol and pray to a god who cannot save. Declare and set forth your case; indeed, let them consult together who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none except Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. They will say of Me, ‘only in the LORD are righteousness and strength’ Men will come to Him, and all who were angry at Him will be put to shame.” (Isaiah 45:19-24).

The Voice of the Son
I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, you shall shatter them like earthenware.’” (Psalm 2:7-9)
It is completely in line with how the Son, Jesus, relates to the Father. Jesus Himself said, “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49). He echoes and confirms the promise of the Father to us. Jesus remembers what God the Father said to Him, identifying Him as the Son of the Father. To beget means to procreate or generate offspring. Jesus was not created, rather He created everything that was created (Colossians 1:16-17). God the Father “has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22). We read in Revelation what happens when Jesus returns: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords'” (Revelation 19:11-16).

The Voice of the Spirit
Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:10-12)
In this last part of the psalm we see the Holy Spirit taking on the role as counselor, and counsels the kings of the earth to give up their foolish attempts to overthrow God. He instructs them to worship the Lord with reverance and rejoice with trembling, to surrender to God and give Him the proper reverence. In Psalm 5:7 it says “but as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house, at Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.” The Hebrew says to kiss (nashaq) the Son. The root of this word means “to catch fire, burn, kindle,” and so paying homage is a proper context here.

Where Psalm 1 begins with a beatitude, Psalm 2 ends with one. Verse 10 talks about the mind. We should show discernment and take warning. The “counsel of the wicked” (Psalm 1:1) has led the ungodly astray. “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20). Verse 11 talks about the heart. We should worship Jesus! Verse 12 talks about the will. We should surrender to Jesus. “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered” (Joel 2:32), because “the LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.” (Nahum 1:7). Beautiful!

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Baptism #9 – The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

This will be the last session on baptism. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is peripheral to baptism, but a topic of much confusion. And I must admit that I am as confused. But I feel I have to write about it anyways. The confusion about the baptism of the Holy Spirit is regarding whether there is one pouring out of the Holy Spirit, default given to every believer upon accepting Jesus Christ as your savior (also called “baptism unto life”, which leads to newness of eternal life, and is evident in the fruit of the Spirit), or if there is a second pouring out of the Holy Spirit, given only when asked for that gives a person much greater spiritual power and boldness, and the ability to live a more victorious Christian life (also called “baptism unto power”, which leads to power to witness, and is evident through the gifts of the Holy Spirit). My aim is to clarify this here.

What is baptism of the Holy Spirit?
The clearest explanation of the baptism appears in 1 Corinthians 12:13. Paul is dealing with a situation where the Corinthian church was splitting into factions over the issue of spiritual gifts. Overemphasis on certain spectacular gifts had led to the attitude that some people had the most desirable gifts, while others were deficient. In response, Paul exclaims “for by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13). His main point? All believers share the reality of being baptized by the Spirit. What does it do? It makes us part of the body of Christ, and will guide us into all truth. When does it happen? If every believer has been baptized in the Spirit, then it must happen at the moment you accept Jesus Christ in your life. Baptism in the Holy Spirit can be defined as: at the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit places a believer into permanent union with Christ and with other believers in the Body of Christ. This is echoed in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that “in Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14), and to “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30). All believers are sealed by the Holy Spirit, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, for the day of redemption. All believers are “waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23).

What is All the Confusion About?
So, why is there so much confusion (or should I say disunity in the body) when it comes to the Holy Spirit? Firstly, in the time that Jesus was still on the earth, He said, “if you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:13), which could lead to the believe that you need to ask for the Holy Spirit in order to receive Him. Yet, this asking is in the form of the initial asking upon conversion. Secondly, anyone who believed in Jesus before Pentecost did not yet receive the Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus “commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:4-8). “And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” (Acts 2:3-4). It is also evident from what Jesus commands here that the pouring out of the Holy Spirit is for being witnesses to Christ (which means it’s a baptism unto power), yet Pentecost was a “special” event, as it was the initial pouring out of the Spirit. Jesus said earlier: “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you” (John 16:7-14). Jesus is speaking to all disciples here. He does not make a distinction. This is why Peter in his sermon after Pentecost could say, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38), for the Holy Spirit is given to each who repents of sin. In two instances later in Acts, the baptism in the Holy Spirit was temporarily delayed in order to demonstrate to the Apostles that Samaritans (Acts 8:14-16) and Gentiles (Acts 10:27-48) were equally a part of God’s plan of salvation, but we always have to remember that it is Jesus who is the baptizer, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11b).

Peculiar Instances
I must admit there are three instances regarding the receiving of the Holy Spirit that I am still confused about. The first is recorded in the Gospel of John where Jesus visits the disciples after His resurrection, it is recorded: “So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (John 20:19-22). This is not as much confusing but rather interesting, as it seems that the disciples there present received the Holy Spirit (Jesus breathed on them) before the day of Pentecost. It could be said that this is where the disciples are born again. The second is recorded in Acts regarding the conversion of Paul (Saul): “So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 9:17). It seems that Saul was actually born again when Ananias layed hands on him, because here it is where he receives the Holy Spirit. Interesting side note is that Paul received the Holy Spirit before being baptized (Acts 9:18) – just to dismantle the notion that baptism is required for receiving the Holy Spirit (as the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not for the purpose of cleansing from sin, but for the purpose of empowering for service). The third is when Paul came to Ephesus and found some disciples who were not aware of the existence of the Holy Spirit and were only baptized by John the Baptist (Acts 19:1-6). They were baptized again, but now in the name of the Lord Jesus, and only then they received the Holy Spirit. “It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said to him, ‘No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ And they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying” (Acts 19:1-6). Why did Paul ask them if they did receive the Holy Spirit when they believed? Apparently, there was something about these disciples that prompted the question from Paul. These Ephesian disciples reveal that they have very little knowledge of God’s nature as revealed in Jesus. One can imagine that these Ephesian disciples heard about the coming of the Messiah through John’s message, and they heard of their need to be ready to receive the Messiah and to ready themselves through repentance.  Yet they actually do not seem to have heard that the Messiah had in fact come, and had not heard of their need to trust in His specific person and work. When they heard that the Messiah had come, they believed, were baptized in the name of Lord Jesus, and received the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion
So, what can be said then? There is one Spirit and one baptism (Ephesians 4:4-5). The one Spirit is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the trinity. His work is regenerating, quickening, enlightening, convicting, comforting, drawing, uniting, indwelling, teaching, cleansing, leading, assuring, witnessing, sealing, assisting, interceding, transforming, preserving, confirming, fructifying, and endowing. The one baptism is the spiritual baptism that happens at the conversion, when we receive the Holy Spirit, and are united with Christ forever, and made part of the body of Christ which is the church. And the Holy Spirit “will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:13-14). The Holy Spirit will not speak on His own initiative. He will only speak to glorify Jesus. And so Jesus must be glorified for the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself. For “all things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23), Jesus said. And Jesus also said, “he who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive” (John 7:38-39). And this Spirit is not exclusive; it is given freely to anyone who believes, and you don’t have to ask for it.

Baptism #8 – Common Distortions

Well, we are almost at the end of our study on the doctrine of baptism. In terms of the sacrament of baptism all has been said, which leaves us with two topics to talk about still. And I must say that both are very controversial, and there is a sense of reluctance to address them, yet I will for I believe the Spirit will bear witness. Jesus said “When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you” (John 16:13-14).

It may very well be that reading all my previous entries on this topic caused you to raise some eyebrows here and there (I hope not), for there are alternative views on some of the aspects of baptism discussed, over which there is much debate. What I will do is address four of these aspects, and for lack of a better word I have named them common distortions, because that is exactly what they are. They are distorted views or wrong interpretations on the Biblical texts, but like I said, let the Spirit of truth guide you into all the truth about baptism.

Common Distortion #1 – Baptism Only Symbolizes Spiritual Cleansing
The first common distortion addresses the aspect that baptism only symbolizes is the washing away of sins, not death and resurrection with Christ. Although it is certainly true that water is an evident symbol of washing and cleansing, and the waters of baptism do symbolize washing and purification as well as death and resurrection with Christ. Titus 3:5 speaks of “the washing of regeneration”, and Ananias told Saul in Acts 22:16 to “rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” But to say that the washing away of sins is the primary or only symbolism of baptism is not faithfully representing New Testament teaching. It is Paul who says, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:3-6). Now what Paul talks about here is the internal acts of baptism when accepting Jesus, yet this is symbolized in the external act of baptism. When a person is baptized into Jesus Christ, he is baptized into His death. He is buried with Christ, and then raised with Christ in the likeness of His resurrection. I love this last statement. We are raised in the likeness of His resurrection, “rescued from the domain of darkness, and transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14). Yes, our body of sin is done away with, we are cleansed from sin, but to be buried with Christ and be united with Him in the likeness of His death, and then to be raised with Him in the likeness of His resurrection. That’s what it’s all about!

Common Distortion #2 – Infant Baptism
The second common distortion is that infants should be baptized. The only way to enter into the kingdom of God is by faith and repentance. When baptism is described in the New Testament, how it is applied in the New Testament, it is clear that we are talking about a baptism of faith and repentance. In other words, faith and repentance come first, and baptism follows after that. Infants are not capable of either faith or repentance. Secondly, the notion that a person should inherit the blessing of a Christian or be considered a Christian by virtue of his parent’s faith is contrary to New Testament teaching. The common defense given for infant baptism is that just as in Israel circumcision was given to eighth-days-old infants, so in the church baptism should be given to infants of Christian parents. Now there is a correspondence between circumcision as a sign of the old covenant with Israel and baptism as a sign of the new covenant with Jesus Christ, but it is not one-on-one. Just as circumcision was administered to all the physical sons of Abraham, so baptism should be administered to all the spiritual sons of Abraham. Who are these spiritual sons of Abraham? Galatians 3:7 says “Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.” So, it is those who are of faith who are the spiritual sons of Abraham. This means you have to be capable of faith. Infants are not capable of faith; hence infants should not be baptized.

Common Distortion #3 – Salvation Baptism
Salvation baptism means that baptism is necessary for salvation, and that the act of baptism itself causes regeneration. This usually ties in with infant baptism, as parents often baptize their infant children as they want them to be saved, become part of the family of God. The basis for this belief of salvation baptism comes from the following three verses. In John 3 Jesus is talking to Nicodemus about the new birth. Jesus says to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Confused by Jesus’ statement Nicodemus asks “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” (John 3:4). And then Jesus answers him, saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Now ‘born of water’ does not refer to baptism, but to the promise of the covenant in Ezekiel 36:25-27, where Ezekiel prophesizes “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” It speaks of a spiritual washing that will come in the days of the new covenant when God will put His Spirit within His people. Another verse used is “Corresponding to that [meaning Noah being safely brought through water], baptism now saves you – not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21). The focus is put on the ‘baptism now saves you’ part, yet it should be read in the whole context of what Peter is trying to say. To paraphrase Peter here, what he says is that baptism now saves you, not the outward physical ceremony of baptism, but the inward spiritual reality which baptism represents. And a third verse is “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Yet this verse says nothing about those who believe and are not baptized.

Three verses can be used to contradict this distortion. Firstly, Paul says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). This verse is clear that salvation is solely based on the grace of God. There is nothing that we can do, including baptism, that will bring us salvation. We are saved through faith, and even that is a gift of God! Secondly, and I am almost embarrassed to mention it, Jesus says in John 3:16, “that whoever believes in Him shall have eternal life.” Whoever believes! There is no other prerequisite to eternal life than faith alone. Thirdly, my personal favorite, when Jesus is being crucified He is accompanied by two criminals, and one of them said, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” (Luke 23:42), and Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43). Now the thief could not have been baptized before he died on the cross, but he was certainly saved that day! Also, the thief could not have been saved under the old covenant, because Jesus died before the two thieves. We read in John 19:31-33, “Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.” And so the new covenant was already in effect.

Common Distortion #4 – Baptism is to be performed by ordained people only
A last common distortion I want to address is that baptism is to be performed by ordained people only. When we read the Great Commission – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19) – to whom is Jesus speaking? The eleven apostles, his disciples. Who are performing baptisms in the New Testament? His disciples. Who are we? His disciples. Let me provide some Scriptural background for this as well. Isaiah 61 talks about the empowerment of Jesus’ ministry, His ministry itself, what God’s people will do, and the everlasting covenant. We read in verse 6, “But you will be called the priests of the LORD; You will be spoken of as ministers of our God” (Isaiah 61:6). God’s people will be set apart to serve the Lord. God’s people, under the anointing of the Spirit and the ministry of the Messiah, have a holy occupation. They are Priests of the Lord, and Servants of our God. Peter also talks about that we are “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Here again it is confirmed that we, the believers, are His ordained priests. Any believer is therefore ordained by Jesus to perform baptisms.

Baptism #7 – Who Do You Baptize?

A question to be answered in response to why be baptized, is who do you baptize? Who should be baptized? The Bible is clear on this matter. From several places in the New Testament it can be deducted that only those who give a believable profession of faith should be baptized. This is because baptism, which is a symbol of beginning the Christian life, should only be given to those who have in fact begun the Christian life. After Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, we read, “So then, those who had received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:41). And so we read that you first hear the good news of the Gospel, first receive (or accept) the Word, after which you are baptized. This is echoed in Philip’s preaching of the Gospel in Samaria. We read, “But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike” (Acts 8:12). Again, you first have to believe the good news about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as your savior before you are baptized. Scripture is clear that baptism is appropriately given to those who have received the gospel and trusted in Christ for their salvation. The New Testament clearly assumes that everyone who was baptized also had personally trusted in Christ and experienced salvation, for Paul says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27)

Psalm #1 – An Important Contrast

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psalm 1)

What a beautiful and important way to open the book of Psalms. To contrast the way of the righteous and the unrighteous, and the results of either choice. This first psalm is about two men: the blessed, righteous, godly man who is “in Christ”, and the wicked, scoffing, unrighteous man who is “in Adam”. Two men, two ways, two destinies.

What the Righteous Man Does Not Do
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” (Psalm 1:1)
The word ‘blessed’ in Hebrew is ‘esher,’ and means “to be straight, or right”. The context talks about a man being right with God. The man who is right with God does not do certain things. First of all the righteous man knows how to stay away from bad counsel. I think especially in our world today this is very important. We get input from so many different sources, like colleagues, family, television, Internet, media, etc. How often do we really consider whether the counsel given is godly or ungodly? We often either agree or disagree, but do we really discern? This is also the case when counsel comes from one’s self. Our own conscience, mind or heart can give us ungodly counsel. How do we deal with this? We should discern that for godly counsel we should always go to God’s Word, the Bible, because it’s there where truth is found. One key to spiritual growth is turning to God and turning away from the kind of people who draw us into temptation. When it says that the righteous man does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, it also refers to walking in the spiritual sense. The apostle Paul implores us “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1), and “that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind” (Ephesians 4:17), but to “walk in love, just as Christ also loved you” (Ephesians 5:2), to “walk as children of Light” (Ephesians 5:8), and to “be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15). When we fail to study and apply God’s Word, we tend to drift through life or follow those who do not follow God. If we are not careful to guide our lives by God’s Word, we will be tossed around by every new fad or philosophy that comes our way.

Secondly, when it says to not stand in the path of sinners, it basically means that the righteous man chooses a different path, opposite of the unrighteous’ path. “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). The righteous man walks a certain direction. He knows the direction sinners take and does not take the same way. He takes the road less traveled instead. Jesus said in Matthew 7:13 to “enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” The righteous man seeks God for the path to take. He says to God: “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11).

Thirdly, the righteous man does not sit in the seat of scoffers. Who are the scoffers? Those who reject God, the atheists who are in denial, those who only partly accept the truth (like acceping God, but not Jesus), those who willingly ignorant and blind towards intelligent design, which they ascribe to randomness. The scoffers love to sit and critize the people of God and the things of God. The righteous man should not join them. We have to remember that the righteous man sits in the seat of the scornful, and he should not switch sides. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12), yet “who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35)

It’s interesting to see the progression here, from walking (towards them), standing (among them), and finally sitting (in their seats). Cut out the walking towards them, eliminates the fear of standing among them or sitting in their seats. What a challenge!

What the Righteous Man Does
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2)
I think this verse is very confronting, because it reveals the heart. To delight in something is to have a high or extreme degree of pleasure or enjoyment in something. What gives you extreme pleasure? What do you make sacrifices for? What do you worship? Is it the Word of God? Or is some false god that you idolize? I would also say that if you delight in something you just want to do it all the time. You make time for it. You hunger for it. And so the righteous man does not only delights in reading the Bible, he also wants to think about it, feel it in his heart, apply it. His mind wants to be filled with the Word of God, so he can meditate on it day and night, even when he is not reading the Bible. That way he always has the sword ready for any circumstance that may come his way. “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16)

The Blessing of the Righteous Man
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:3)
If I think of a tree by a river, I think of a tree that has been there a long time, with root reaching deep into the ground. A tree by a river always has what it needs: water. And because of that it’s strong and stable. This is exactly what the righteous man is, strong and stable. Because he has firmly planted himself in the Living Water, the Bible, God, his roots reach deep into the ground, and he bears much fruit because of it. Yes, leaves will fall, seasons come and go, but in the end he will prosper because his source is Living Water.

The Way of the Unrighteous
The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away” (Psalm 1:4)
The unrighteous basically is the opposite of the righteous. Whereas the tree is strong and stable, Charles H. Spurgeon says of chaff that it is “intrinsically worthless, dead, unserviceable, without substance, and easily carried away”. It may seem at times that the unrighteous has more than the righteous, but it only a temporal thing, it doesn’t carry any weight, and will not hold in judgment. The righteous man should always aim to bear much fruit. When he stops bearing fruit, it is because something happens to the roots (Matthew 11:13,14,20).

Conclusion
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1:5-6)
We don’t want to think about judgment, believer and unbeliever alike. Yet this does not changes the truth that there will be judgment nonetheless. For the believer in Christ, the righteous, blessed man there is no judgment of sin, for “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), but for the unbeliever, the unrighteous, ungodly, wicked scoffer, there is “a terrifying expectation of judgment” (Hebrews 10:27). It is said in Psalm 37:18 that “the Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever“. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me” (John 10:14), “but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him” (2 Corinthians 8:3). It is awesome to be known by God, and it should be our goal in life to live righteous, to not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers.

In closing, let’s heed the advice from the apostle Paul, “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?” (Galatians 4:9).