1. FOLLOWING JESUS

 

When a person claims to be a Christian, a union of Christ and the believer is involved. It will be the same as the union between God and Christ. “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” 1 John 2:6. It is evident that abiding in Christ involves the everyday life of the Christian.

 

How did Christ walk?

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.”

John 15:10.

Read John 17:4; 4:34.

 

When Jesus called His early disciples what did He instruct them to do?

Follow me.”

Mathew 4:19; John 1:43.

 

What does Christ require of His servants today?

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 honour.”

John 12:26.

Read Colossians 2:6.

 

Who is our example?

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.”

1 Peter 2:21.

 

What does following Jesus involve?

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Mathew 16:24-26.

Read Mark 10:21.

 

How will Christ’s sheep respond to His voice?

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

John 10:27.

 

Conclusion

Following Jesus will require a sacrifice on our part. There is no middle ground. “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be a disciple.” Luke 14:33.

 

 

 

2. BIBLE BAPTISM

 

That baptism is an important Christian ceremony is proved by the words of Jesus to John the Baptist when John refused to baptize Christ. “And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.” Mathew 3:15. On another occasion Jesus told Nicodemus, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” John 3:5.

 

How many forms of baptism are there?

One Lord, one faith, one baptism.”

Ephesians 4:5.

 

Note: Even though the Bible speaks of only “one baptism” yet Christendom is divided as to the method. Some practice sprinkling, others pouring, and still others immersion.

 

Is baptism an essential step in the Christian’s life?

Read Acts 2:37, 38 and Mark 16:16.

 

Note: The thief who repented of his sins while on the cross did not have an opportunity to be baptized. He gave his heart to Christ while dying. He was assured of salvation and will get to heaven without baptism because he did all he could do. Had he accepted Jesus before this and refused baptism he could not be saved. Read James 4:17. There are some who refer to 1 Corinthians 15:29 and then practice being baptized for a dead person. We must never assume that someone else can perform duties for us and we get the credit. A study of context reveals Paul was not teaching this custom.

 

How is the Christian to be baptized?

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”

Colossians 2:12.

 

Note: Baptizo is the Greek for the word baptism. It means to dip, to plunge under water, to immerse. When you bury something you cover it completely. A person is buried face upward, not downward. He is covered once, not three times. Therefore, the practice of triune immersion is not the proper symbol. In true Bible baptism the candidate is placed underneath the water completely, on his back and then brought up out of the water. This is a symbol of death, burial, and resurrection.

 

Who is eligible to be baptized?

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Mathew 28:19, 20.

Read Acts 2:38; Isaiah 55:7; Romans 10:9, 10.

 

Note: A person desiring baptism should:

    1. Be Taught.
    2. Believe and Repent.
    3. Forsake his past life of Sin.

            Since a baby cannot meet these conditions it is clear infant baptism is not Biblical.

 

 

What suggests the mode of Jesus’ baptism?

And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Mark 1:9-11.

 

Note: Christ was baptized in the Jordan River. He was immersed because the Scripture says he came “up out of the water.”

 

What manner did the apostles baptize?

Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.”

Acts 8:35-39.

 

Note: Both Philip and the eunuch went into the water and came up out of it. John also immersed people because he baptized people where “there was much water.” John 3:23.

 

What is the meaning of baptism?

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Romans 6:3, 4.

 

What does baptism indicate about a person’s relation to Christ?

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

Galatians 3:27.

Read Acts 22:16.

 

Note: Baptism does not wash or make us clean; it is a symbol of the blood atonement of Christ. It is a public testimony, like a wedding ceremony, of a previous change of life and linking one’s life with Christ.

 

How are believers united in faith?

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

1 Corinthians 12:12, 13.

 

Conclusion

When the truth about baptism is understood, then the question put to Saul (who later became Paul) by Ananias should be acted upon: “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized.” Acts 22:16. God will be honored by prompt obedience. The path into the waters of baptism has been trod by Jesus. He will be with us as we follow.

 

 

 

3. TWO ORIDINANCES CHRIST INSTITUTED

BEFORE HIS DEATH

 

Before His death Christ put into His plan for His followers two ordinances, both of which have spiritual significance. These, like all other things Jesus did and commanded, are based upon love.

 

After the Passover supper and before His betrayal what ordinance did Jesus first institute in the upper room?

Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. Therefore he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”

John 13:1-17.

 

Did the disciples understand Christ’s action?

Evidently not, because Jesus plainly stated, “What I do thou knowest not now.” Verse 7. Again He made clear that this was a unique condition of partnership with Him when he said, “If I wash thee not, thou hast not part with me.” Verse 8. Further, had they understood its significance He would not have had to probe them with this final question: “Know ye what I have done to you?Verse 12.

 

Did Jesus expect His disciples to enter into the repetition of His action in washing one another’s feet?

Three verses prove conclusively that Jesus’ followers are to imitate His example in this rite. he said, “Ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Verse 14. Christ added, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” Verse 15. He concludes by saying, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” Verse 17.

 

What is there in this service for us?

    1. It memorializes Christ’s life of service.
    2. On that occasion there was jealousy and strife among the disciples (Luke 22:24). Therefore when Jesus washed their feet, they were humbled. Hence, this rite serves to keep the proper loving spiritual relationship between bretheren.
    3. This rite also serves as a miniature rebaptism. Read John 13:10. One who is washed (the washing of baptism) needs not to be rebaptized when he makes a mistake. He has not lost faith in Christ. The feet washing is a continual assurance of Christ’s cleansing grace.
    4. As a memorial to Christ’s service, it can teach us to humble ourselves to serve others to whatever extent or depth necessary.

 

Before leaving the upper room, after He had washed the disciples’ feet, what final ordinance did Jesus constitute?

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

Mathew 26:26-28.

Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; 10:16, 17.

 

Note: To get the most out of this service, the Lord’s Supper, involves a fourfold act of devotion.

1.      There is the act of self-examination (1 Corinthians 11:28).

2.      There is also the act of dependence. Jesus is the bread and the vine (John 6:48-58; 15:1-5).

3.      There is the act of remembrance of the Lord’s death (1 Corinthians 11:24, 26).

4.      There is the act of hope “till he come” (1 Corinthians 11:26).

 

Conclusion

The communion service consists of two parts: First, the foot washing service, a test of our true attitude toward one another. It is also a reminder we must be clean when approaching the Lord’s Table (1 Corinthians 10:21). Second, the Lord’s Supper symbolizes God’s means of atonement for our sins. We cannot claim to love Jesus and refrain from the great memorial of His love for us.

 

 

 

4. IDENTIFYING GOD’S CHURCH

 

There are hundreds of different churches with various doctrines each of which considers itself to be God’s church on earth. But how can this be? It would seem that for any church to qualify as God’s church, it must teach and practice all the Bible teaches. When Paul talks about

the house of God, which is the church of the true living God” he says it is “the pillar and the ground of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15. Read Revelation 12:1-17.

 

What are the three main symbols used in Revelation 12?

    1. First, there is the symbol of the woman who is clothed with the sun. This is a symbol of God’s church. A pure, beautiful woman is God’s way of representing His church. Read Jeremiah 6:2; Corinthians 11:2. The woman’s clothing could represent the robe of Christ’s righteousness. The moon is a symbol of the types and shadows of Old Testament times. The ceremonial law was of value only when it was fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. The crown of twelve stars represents twelve leaders of the Old Testament, Jacob’s sons, and in the New Testament the twelve apostles.
    2. Second, there is the symbol of the great red dragon. In Verse 9 the dragon is identified as the devil. Satan always works through human agents. Pagan Rome was that agent at the time of John’s vision.
    3. Third, the man-child represents Jesus Christ. For centuries the church had looked for the birth of the Messiah. When He came He was born a helpless babe. He was hated and attacked by the devil. Finally He will one day rule all nations. Jesus is the only person who fits all these specifications.

 

What three stages of the controversy between Christ and Satan are brought to light in Revelation 12?

                  1.   First, there was the plot worked out by Satan to destroy Christ at his birth.

2.   Second, during the Dark Ages God’s church was driven into the wilderness where she remained, often persecuted, but loyal and true to God. And even though the devil, through wars and the Mohammedan hordes, tried to exterminate the fugitive church, yet
the earth helped the woman.” How? By providing hiding places in caves and secluded spots as well as by the discovery of the New World – America – where liberty to worship the way one chose was made possible. This period extended from A.D. 538 to A.D. 1798.

3.   Third, when the church emerged from her wilderness experience at the end of the 18th century Satan again continued his terrible warfare against the latter end of God’s church – the remnant.

 

What are the identifying marks of God’s church in these last days?

            And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God,        and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 12:17.

Here are given three marks which identify the remnant church with absolute certainty.

1.      The devil is angry “with the remnant” of the church’s seed. Since a remnant is always identical to the original this means the last church is like the apostolic church. Therefore its teachings should square fully with the Bible, the Christian blueprint.

2.      God’s last church will be a commandment keeping church in contrast to those who accept the teachings and traditions of men.

3.      God’s church in these last days has “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” This testimony of Jesus through the prophets

      (1 Peter 1:10, 11) is the Bible term for the gift of prophecy which made it possible for “holy men of God” to produce the sacred 

      writings of the Bible (1 Peter 1:21). And it is the method God uses in guiding His church today.

 

Conclusion

In the parable of the shepherd and the sheep Jesus said, “And another sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” John 10:16. All the sheep will not only hear the voice of the shepherd but Jesus continued, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27. Read Revelation 18:1-4. Each person must answer the call of God himself. Now is the time of decision.

 

 

 

5. GOD’S LAST WARNING MESSAGE

 

We are living now in the closing days of Earth’s history. Through divine inspiration Paul tells us the conditions that would be prevalent in these last days. Read 2 Timothy 3:1-5. God has spoken. These conditions are in evidence all about us. To meet this crisis God has a special message designed for these last days. It is His last warning message.

 

Does God always warn men of a coming crisis?

Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”

Amos 3:7.

 

Note: Before God destroyed the world by a flood of waters, He sent a message of warning to the antediluvians through Noah

(Genesis 6). Angels came from heaven and warned Lot and his family to leave Sodom. There was Moses’ warning of the plagues to fall on Egypt. Jonah was sent to warn the inhabitants of Nineveh before their destruction. Jesus warned the Jews of the destruction of Jerusalem which took place in A.D. 70.

 

In these last days what is God doing to warn the world?

God has a special message for our day. It is the message of Revelation 14:6-12. This is to be given just before the return of Christ (Revelation 14:14-16).

 

Before the coming of Christ what kind of gospel is to be proclaimed to the world?

And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.”

Revelation 14:6.

 

Note: This term “the everlasting gospel” indicates the unchanged gospel that was presented to Adam, Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, Peter and Paul. It is the everlasting good news concerning Christ our Saviour. It is a Christ-centered message with Christ as our Sin Bearer, High Priest, and our daily Bread of Life – man’s only Saviour.

 

What specific announcement does this last warning message contain that could be given only in our day?

Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”

Revelation 14:7.

 

Note: This message which says “The hour of his judgment is come” could not have been given before. The judgment hour arrived in 1844 in fulfillment of Daniel 8:14. The investigative judgment is going on now. It is imperative that this message be proclaimed warning men and women that time is short.

 

In this last message what basic truth is also given?

Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”

Revelation 17:7, last part.

 

Note: Recognition of God as Creator is the basis of all true religion. The fact that God is the Creator is the foundation of God’s authority as well as of our responsibility to God. This last warning message unites the fact of creation with the judgment.

 

What is the message of the second angel?

And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

Revelation 14:8.

Read also Revelation 18:1-4.

 

Note: Babylon is a symbolic term standing for religious apostasy in opposition to Christ and His people, especially in the closing phase of the age long conflict between good and evil. Many of God’s people are still in Babylon. In these latter days God is calling them out to take a stand on the side of God’s truth. God’s people will be commandment keepers (Revelation 12:17). Read John 10:16, 27.

 

Against what does the third angel warn?

And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”

Revelation 14:9-11.

 

Note: This is a message warning against worshipping the beast and his image and a warning to beware of receiving his mark.

Verse 12 holds up the saints in contrast to those who worship the beast.

 

Conclusion

The issue in the last conflict will be clear. We are all called upon to decide between God and man. If we should choose “the commandments of men” instead of God’s commandments our worship will be in vain (Mark 7:7). There will be a clear distinction between those who receive the mark of the beast and those who are designated saints. The latter keep God’s commandments. The former apparently do not. Whereas the Christian apostasy allegedly upholds the Decalogue, but not the fourth precept, it is evident that the issue in the final conflict will be the fourth commandment – the Sabbath and loyalty to the Creator. God holds a person responsible for the light he has (John 9:41). The saints will also have the faith of Jesus. Let us not reject God’s last warning message. Let us be willing to heed the warning.