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Thoughts and ministry set forth here about the Bible and Christian life. Questions are welcome to Biblecounsel.net. All letters are held confidential. One can use initals or a nickname if they wish. Readers should also see ministry on other pages of the Bible Counsel site. Send e-mail to R. DeWitt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Bible Counsel - Feature Page 3
For those undecided ones who wonder, wander, and worry….
When a religious soul turns from the Bible or changes it to suit self, he/she forms a personal religion;
When one forms a personal religion he/she changes God's ways to man's ways;
When one changes God's ways he/she serves self and pleases Satan;
When one serves self and pleases Satan he/she falls into a trap;
Don't fall into Satan's trap ---hold to the Bible and learn God's ways. - RLD
BIBLE STUDY METHOD
1. WAY TO STUDY THE BIBLE: In the first place, if we don't study we will likely end up following after many voices to our loss and confusion. If one is a true "born again" believer in Jesus, the Christ of God (as shown in John 1; John 3; John 14; etc.), then that one needs to know the mind and ways of God. A good way to study the Bible is to have a system.
2. CULTIVATE A DESIRE TO HEAR GOD SPEAKING TO YOU, and desire to know His message for your life. This comes from "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27), not just interpretations of a few verses. There are no contradictions in the Bible. One needs to see the harmony of Scripture, and the Holy Spirit will apply the truth of it. Do you really want to know what God thinks? Begin by prayer asking God to teach you by His Word as well as circumstances.
3. SET A TIME DAILY OR WEEKLY; otherwise study won't likely happen. Decide on the method and course, and prepare. Without a sound method, one will wander and misapply Scripture ---the venerable King James Version is recommended as being much depended on over 300-400 years; ask Bible Truth Publishers at Addison, IL --USA for help and a catalog (see at the Internet site: Bibletruthpublishers.com):
a) A progressive study of the several aspects of the Bible: BIBLE GENERAL, which encompasses such as overview showing the differences in the 66 books ---as Old Testament and New Testament; and deity; creation; God dealing with mankind; the covenant with Israel; early history; etc. REDEMPTION WAY ---the coming of Israel's Messiah (which has been mostly rejected by them); the birth of the Savior in Jesus, the Christ of God for all mankind, and His ministry for eternal life and blessings in the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) ---and without this, one will have no relationship with our eternal Creator-God; CHURCH TRUTH ---as that which shows the scriptural path for the saints (sanctified ones) as in the Epistles (church letters); "unity of the faith" world-wide; the collective testimony of the redeemed souls; sharing in Bible studies; the collective Lord's Supper and His Table; fellowship universal as Bible-Only expressing the "one body in Christ"; and finally the end times prophecy, judgments and eternal destiny as Revelation shows; SPIRITUAL LIFE ---concerning our walk and conversation to honor and obey God; keep His Word; witness to all mankind in love, with prayer and communion with our Savior ---the Lord Jesus.
b) A study of topics or subjects that are essential to the believer's pathway---e.g. holiness, worship, devotion, service, trials, marriage & practical choices, etc. Choose a subject of special interest and learn about it, rather than just reason over it. Good ministry is available from the sources shown herein.
c) A study of each Book and chapter in a progressive way through the Bible: One can read a chapter, pray over it, and then read some sound ministry on it from reliable sources. Some suggest a chapter a day with much prayer. One has said: We ought to do as a cow --"eat, then pause and chew on it awhile". It is important to see that there are no contradictions in the Word of God, and verses ought to be understood first in their context.
4. Have a concordance available, and a good Bible dictionary. The Concise Bible Dictionary is an excellent aide (available at Bible Truth Publishers); also, have paper to take notes for questions and further inquiry. -RLD.
W.O.T.S. BIBLE STUDY
Introduction here to the free W.O.T.S. Bible study, and if a seeker is interested it can be sent in parts. Any questions will be responded to as soon as possible. It is hoped the reader will benefit from these papers, which are not just some general ideas, but verified ministry from "all the counsel of God" and "rightly dividing the Word of Truth", as God has stated. Please feel free to respond to this ministry with any questions or thoughts to this writer to be of help. Seekers should read their Bible with much prayer to God as to each thought expressed, and it is hoped it will prove profitable. Further Bible ministry can be studied monthly at the Internet site: www.biblecounsel.homestead.com. Please advise if the seeker would like to have this free WORD OF TRUTH STUDY sent. Keep looking up, for God cares always! - By R. DeWitt: GB40; 2005; add 4/2020
BAPTISM NOT FOR SALVATION
[Letter adapted for ministry and to avoid names]
Regarding your comments on the subject of baptism for salvation, friend, I will try to respond to your thoughts. I will share some information then leave you to your "closet" (Matt.6:6) to talk with God.
First, I must say, one can imbibe this erroneous reasoning about baptism by not understanding the difference between the "Kingdom of Heaven" and the "Kingdom of God" ---i.e. profession and possession. Also, if one fails to see that baptism of repentance to God by John --the baptizer, is not the same as baptism today to Christ, they can get confused (Acts 19:1-6). John was baptizing as a means of honest bowing to God with hope of His mercies, and coming to save souls; and after the coming of the "Christ", baptism became more specific as one 'taking a stand with the name of the Lord Jesus against the unbelieving world' ---which it remains so today.
You have emphasized that baptism always precedes salvation, yet that is not what we see in Acts 18:8 and other verses. Many souls also receive Christ at the point of death and are not baptized. One should also note that salvation is often implied as occurring before baptism (e.g. Acts 16:30-33; etc.), but either way God is glorified by the faithfulness of it. It is really taking a honest stand with the truth of Christ against the unbelieving world ---yet one must be "born again" for salvation by personal faith in Jesus Christ ---POSSESSING HIM (see John 3; John 14; Galatians 2:20; note Epistle 1 Jn. 5:10-12; etc.). Do you have Him in your heart?
Baptism is important to bring one into the sphere of mercy and privilege, like circumcision for Israel (see also the type: Gen. 17:11). It honors God, but doesn't cleanse one of sin (see I Pet.3:21). "Ye must be born again" (John 3:6) to be saved, and that is by
RECEIVING Jesus-the Christ for the new birth; NOT by works. God says it is "not by works of righteousness which we have done" (Titus 3:5). How could one do works down in "an horrible pit" (Psa.40:2)? See also Isaiah 64:6 which says: "all our righteousness’s are as filthy rags". Baptism does not preserve a soul whether one is baptized before or after they are saved. One should not get ceremonial about it, like many religions and their rituals hoping to earn an entrance to heaven.
Many verses show salvation is by faith with no mention of rituals or baptism (see Luke 23:39-43; John 3:14-16; Rom.3:24-26; II Tim.1:9; etc.). Please note John 3:14-15 and compare with Numbers 21:8 to see that salvation is by a look of real faith on the finished and perfect work of Christ on the cross ---a relationship. We must not try to add our works to that and dishonor Him, who paid such a great price to redeem us.
Consider the following verses often misused by false teachers:
Mark 16:15-16 was a word to Israel and the world for repentance. It refers generally to the preservation of the soul. To be saved means to be preserved or kept, and is used in different ways in the Word of God. The verse is in two parts. It says he that continues to believe about God and is baptized shall be preserved (a general beginning); and he that believes not (in real faith by embracing the salvation of God), shall be condemned. This is consistent with all other references. It is referring to the Kingdom in general. It speaks only of repentance (see Matt.3:1-11; Acts 13: 24; especially Acts 19:1-6).
Acts 2:36-38 says to the men of Israel to repent, which implies believing and conformity to Christ; and to be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ unto (not for) remission of sins, and ye shall (thereafter) receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Salvation is by the indwelling of the Spirit, not by Baptism! Baptism is obedience to show faithfulness and take a public stand for the biblical testimony.
Acts 8:12-25 is very important and should be studied prayerfully to see that baptism is not salvation or eternal life. Only the indwelling and sealing of the Spirit can bring salvation, and that was imparted to all present, except Simon the sorcerer, who was not faithful. He only believed (allowed) what Phillip was saying, like Judas Iscariot and some other curious followers seeking gain.
Acts 22:16 is rendered in one translation as saying that in addition to being baptized unto Christ, one should "have thy sins washed away calling on the Name of the Lord". This is consistent with all other references (note Rom.10). Salvation is not by our works of baptism or any other work. It is the free gift of God to true believers (“calling on the Name of the Lord”). God looks on the heart (I Sam.16:7).
Rom.6:3-4 refers to the testimony, being baptized unto (not into) Jesus Christ, and it is "like" unto Christ's sacrificial work---taking a stand with Him.
Gal.3:27 should be rendered unto (not into) Christ, and again refers to obedience and the testimony, not the spiritual new birth and salvation. Into or unto is the Greek word "eis", and it depends on how it is used. Unto (or near) the truth or Name of Christ is not salvation. Many have come near and heard and accepted (or allowed) the truth, but were not "born again" (saved). This was true in Bible times, as well as today. We can no way be baptized "into" Christ, for sinners are lost and down in a "horrible pit" (Psa. 40:1-3). We can only "look up", as shown in John 3:14.
Col.2:11-12 also refers to obedience and faithfulness in baptism as the result of God's work in our soul. God saves and we respond by faith. Baptism does not save!
Titus 3:5 tells us that God saves, not by our righteous WORKS, but by our embracing the TRUTH (“washing of regeneration”), and then the work of God in our soul (“renewing of the Holy Ghost”). Baptism only says we have embraced God's truth.
I Pet.3:21 clearly says baptism is a figure and not for cleansing the flesh. It is only the "answer of a good conscience". It is not salvation of the soul.
Now, my friend, I don't mean to be unkind. I only wish to share these thoughts. Please see the attached papers which may help to explain what baptism really is. The issue is whether one chooses or not to believe he must do a work to gain salvation, and I do not. I don't think God is pleased with one presuming to add to the redemptive work of Christ. Satan certainly would have man put his trust in self.
- Yours in Christ, R. DeWitt: RL02; 11/2020.
[ ADDENDUM: The followers of the teaching of baptism for salvation, don't understand the work of the Spirit of God in the new birth by faith alone. They need to also review Romans 10. They need to know, too, that the old order of Israel was done away, including "divers washings" and various rituals (Heb.9). They need to see that sinners cannot cleanse themselves. They must be washed by the blood of Christ spiritually (note Rev.1:5).
Water cannot cleanse one of sin. It is only a gesture, as when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, etc. Water is also used in the Bible as of the Word of God at times.
One might take note that Paul attached no urgency to baptism (I Cor.1:13-14); and see Ephesians 5:25-26 and I John 5:6-8 to understand something of the spiritual meaning of water; and see John 1:12-13 to realize that God's salvation is not 'of the will of man, but of God'. - R.L.D.]