Baptism-What is it and what does it do?     
By Elder Jonathan Wise, Pastor


Baptism is one of the most distinguished aspects of Christianity, yet there are many ideas about what it encompasses and what it accomplishes for the child of God. First, with all due respect, a proper New Testament baptism should involve complete immersion in water. The underlying Greek word literally means to immerse, plus we find numerous examples of that pattern in the scriptures (Mark. 1:5, 9-10, Acts 8:38-39, John 3:23) and it was what the early church practiced for its first 200-plus years before men introduced other methods . Most importantly, baptism is a symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When people go under the water, they are testifying to their belief in His death (burial), and rising from the water they are testifying to dedicating their subsequent lives to following and serving a Savior that arose from the grave to forgive their sins! 
Furthermore, what is a fit candidate to undergo baptism? The scriptures teach that the act of baptism should only be entered into by believers in the gospel. In Acts 8 after Philip preached the message of Jesus Christ to the Ethiopian eunuch, the man asked "what doth hinder me to be baptized" when they came to water (vs. 36). Philip reply is clear enough, "If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest" (vs. 37). Well what about children one asks? The same criteria applies. If a child understands and believes in Jesus Christ they should be administered baptism, the same as anyone else. They obviously won't know lots of details about doctrine, but neither will a newly converted adult. Again with all due respect, however, the Bible leaves no room for the valid baptism of infants.
Finally, what does it do for us? A full discussion and breakdown of different scriptures and views on this topic could fill a book, but consider that a proper subject is already a gospel believer. Since someone who believes in Jesus is already born again and saved for heaven (1 John 4:15, 5:1), then it obviously isn't how we receive eternal salvation. In short, it is a duty that all believers in Christ should carry out, for it shows others your belief in and commitment to Him and it give us personal peace because it is "the answer of a good conscience toward God" (1 Pet. 3:21).

'The Glorious Appearing of Our Savior" -By Elder Jonathan Wise  
By Elder Jonathan Wise, Pastor

VIDEO VERSION


'The Glorious Appearing of Our Savior" -By Elder Jonathan Wise
There is currently a great deal of discussion about Eschatology or study of the end times in the realm of Christianity. I will readily admit that in general the topic is one where believers of all kinds should treat differing views with a good deal of Christian liberty. However, the scriptures give us very clear teaching about the central, and certainly most important, event left on the historical calendar- the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
The prevalent idea that God's children will be secretly raptured out of the world with the wicked left behind to suffer has no basis in scripture and is historically a relatively new doctrinal idea, arising in the 1800s. To good rule of thumb is to always interpret the bible's most difficult parts in light of passages are unmistakably clear in meaning, not vice versa. In its clearest passage on the subject, God's word tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4: 15-17: "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."  These scriptures clearly teach that God's people will be alive and present at the appearing of Jesus, not a secret event but a glorious event that everyone shall behold (see also Mat. 24:26-27), and that will be followed by the physical destruction of this earth (2 Pet. 3:10). Further, it also teaches that this is when the resurrection of the dead shall occur. 
As this is Paul's writing to a church, he understandably emphasizes the "dead in Christ." However, the bible is also very clear that this resurrection will also involve the bodily resurrection of the wicked who are not recipients of God's gift of salvation to their eternal punishment.  Jesus says in John 5:28-29: "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (See also Dan. 12:2, Acts 24:15). The bible also teaches the Lord is coming back with His angels and the voice of the archangel (Mat. 25:31, 2 Thes 1:7, 1 Thes. 4:16),  with a shout (I Thes. 4:16), and the sound of with a trumpet (1 Thes. 4:16, 1 Cor. 15:52, Mat. 24:31), and in the clouds just as went back into heaven after His resurrection  (Rev. 1:7, Mat. 24:30, Acts 1:9-11). What a day that will be when our Lord appears the second time!

What is the Purpose of the Gospel?
By Elder Jonathan Wise, Pastor 
Video Version


The preaching of the gospel is best summarized as the declared truth of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:3-4). There are many different ideas about what the preached gospel accomplishes in modern Christendom. However, let’s go to the scriptures for our answer to this question.


Most teaching today says that someone believing in the gospel is a necessary condition to be met in order to be saved from his or her sins. However, Hebrews chapter 11 lists at least 16 different men and women (and many others non-specifically) that are said to have possessed faith long before there was a gospel or Jesus even came into the world. Since faith is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), we must conclude that these saints were indeed born of the Spirit like present gospel age believers, and most importantly the gospel is a not a means by which people are saved to heaven.

 The Apostle Paul is crystal clear in his definition of what exactly the gospel does in 2 Timothy 1:10, where he declares that Jesus Christ “hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” Simple logic should tell us that bringing something to light (in this case immortality) is not to make that thing come into fruition, but rather it makes it known or reveals what is already there. Thus, the gospel reveals or “brings to light” the eternal life already present inside of God’s elect children (Eph. 1:3-7,Rom. 8:29-30), for whom he came to earth to fulfill every condition required for their salvation. (Heb. 10:14, Mat.1:21). Correctly stated, the gospel gives God’s children with a heart tendered by the indwelling Holy Spirit knowledge of what Jesus has so mightily done for them already, as he has “abolished death” or the eternal penalty for sin. Believing in the gospel is evidence you are a blood-bought child of God!

What is Total Depravity?
By Elder Jonathan Wise



Total Depravity is perhaps the most essential doctrine to understand in studying the Bible, because without an understanding of how fallen in sin man is, one cannot understand what it took to deliver us from that condition.
It simply means that through Adam's transgression mankind is so corrupted  (depraved) by the curse of sin that we can do absolutely nothing to deliver or help deliver ourselves from that condition. Romans 3:10-11 states plainly: “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” By the nature he is born with, man cannot please God with his works nor can he seek to follow Christ and or understand the gospel (from the heart). Therefore, man cannot "choose" to follow Jesus because scripture declares such a choice is impossible with natural man. Natural man’s heart must be changed and a person must first be born again in order seek God or understand spiritual things. (1 Cor. 2:14). 
Rather than believing in Jesus Christ securing salvation, it is actually indisputable evidence that one has already been born again by the immediate and direct working of the Holy Spirit. Notice the language in these verses: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is (present tense) born of God..(1 John 5:1); “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth (present tense) in him, and he in God” (1 John 4:15).” Belief in Jesus Christ is an evidence of a redeemed state and that a depraved heart has been changed by no one but the Lord alone. 

How are you born again? (Part 1)
By Elder Jonathan Wise, Pastor

Video Version
 
            It is commonly agreed upon by the majority of Christians that we must be “born again” in order to reach heaven (John 3:3). Also known as regeneration, this means that the Holy Spirit literally comes to dwell within the heart of a person and changes them from desiring sin to desiring Christ and righteousness.
            However, when it comes to how this is accomplished there are several different views. I will briefly contrast the bible’s teaching on the subject with two of the most advocated, one today and one in the next writing. Perhaps the most accepted is what I will call “decisional regeneration” – a person decides to place their faith Christ as Lord, he or she is given the gift of the Holy Spirit (born again), and thus he or she becomes eternally forgiven of their sins and a child of God.
            However, the scriptures testify that the “new birth” occurs because a person is already a child of God and eternally forgiven of their sins (secured by Christ on the cross), not in order to become a child of God. Galatians 4:6 says, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”
Furthermore, it is solely by the Lord’s will and power this is accomplished. Just as he created the universe and everyone/everything in it by his life-giving voice, so he makes his blood-bought children new creatures in Christ (See 2 Cor. 5:17, 2 Cor. 4:6, John 5:25). Praise the Lord for his sovereign power in accomplishing salvation!

What did Christ Accomplish?

By Elder Jonathan Wise, Pastor

Video Version

That Jesus came into the world to save sinners from their sins is common knowledge to all bible-believing Christians.  However, scripture gives us much more insight as to the exact nature of our Savior's sacrifice.  Christ came into the world not just to save sinners but to save "his people" from their sins (Mat. 1:21), a specific group of sinners and not mankind in general.


The Lord Jesus himself used similar language on several occasions in the gospels, perhaps most clearly in John 17:2, "As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." The bible teaches that God the Father gave Jesus a specific group of people to die for and those are who were "perfected forever" (Heb. 10:14) by his offering of himself on the cross.  We also learn that these people were chosen in Christ before the world began (Eph. 1:4), and that, contrary to common misconception, comprise an innumerable multitude from all nations on the earth (Rev. 7:9).


You see, the Lord Jesus' death did accomplish a specific purpose. It redeemed his people from their sins and secured their home in heaven without the loss of one!



Why believe in a recent creation?
By Elder Jonathan Wise, Pastor

VIDEO VERSION


A steadfast belief in the opening chapters of God's Word is the most important foundation any Christian can have. Today the false science of evolutionists is everywhere God's children look, and many have been caught up in the secularists'  false narrative that belief in a recent creation, a young earth, a worldwide flood, etc. are things that are reserved for people out of touch with modernity. Dear friends, do not be deceived by the enemy (Satan)!
Why is it so important to believe the Bible's account of God's creation? Quite simply, it lays the foundation for most of the essential doctrines of the scriptures. That also explains why Satan has attacked the Genesis account so vigorously in our modern times. He knows that if he can get people to doubt the truth of creation, they have no logical reason to regard the rest of God's Word as credible. Whether or not one believes in the creation account cannot be "separated" from one's belief in the gospel, because it tells us why we have need of a Savior. Evolution presents death as a natural cycle by which more advanced creatures developed over millions of years, but the Bible tells us that death is the result of sin entering into the world (Romans 6:23). God created a sin-free world, but sin and thus death entered into the world through the transgression of Adam, created by God as the first man, and through his sin we all inherit by birth a nature that is sinful and condemned before a holy God (Rom. 5:12). This prompted a gracious God to make provision for the salvation of His people (Eph. 1:4-7, Mat. 1:21) through sending Jesus Christ into the world in the form of a man to keep God's moral law perfectly (Heb. 2:14-17). Through His death, He paid the penalty for the sin of God's children and His righteousness is imputed to us (2 Cor. 5:21, Romans 5:19).
However, there are even more theological implications in believing the Genesis history. God's Word tells us that just as God's voice spoke the heavens and earth into existence and created life, so His creative, sovereign power is the means whereby His children are born again (John 3:8). His voice speaks life into the dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1) heart of those He redeemed on the cross (John 5:25, 2 Cor. 4:6). God's Word also tells us that just as God made Adam from the dust of the earth (Gen. 2:7) to create man, so one day He will resurrect (bring back to life) these fleshly bodies from the grave and their decayed state in this earthly soil to be glorified in heaven (John 5;28-29). My friends, rejoice in a God who created and rules the universe, and who has given us an inspired and altogether reliable history that we can have full faith in!

Suicide
By Elder Jonathan Wise

Video Version



I would venture to guess that quite a large number of people have been personally affected by someone taking their own life or at least know someone who has. It is a tragic situation when a person gets in such a state of despair, depression, and hopelessness that he or she feels they have no reason or desire to live in this world any longer. A common question often raised usually goes something like this- can a child of God commit suicide and still go to heaven? For some this issue burdens their hearts and presents a great struggle of the mind. It perhaps may even test their beliefs.  However, I believe scripture presents a clear answer to this question- unequivocally yes!
Our works or any action we have taken didn't gain us eternal life in the first place, so they are not the basis by which we keep it! Besides if we can lose the life Jesus gives it is not really eternal life, is it? Titus 3:5-7 says: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by His grace, we should be made heir according to the hope of eternal life." The mercy and grace (meaning unmerited favor) of God is why and how we are made to be recipients of eternal life. Ephesians 1:3-7 tells us this grace that saved us originated before the foundation of the world. Jesus Christ then redeemed all that were given him by the Father at the cross (John 17:2). When we are born again by the power of God alone, the redemption Jesus purchased is applied to us. In Phillipians 1:6 we read: "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." This "good work" referenced is the holy nature given to all God's children in the new birth (manifested by someone displaying the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23), and it tells us a child of God will continue in that state without fail until the day of the Jesus Christ, which is the glorious second coming and resurrection of the dead.
The Apostle Paul lists 10 things in Romans 8:38-39 that cannot "seperate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord." Notice the first thing he lists is death. If someone belongs to Jesus, the manner in which they die cannot change that fact, or for that manner the bad, sinful choices some of God's children make in their lifestyles  (see the second listing-"life"). The comfort many seek when dealing with this question will come by understanding that God is faithful. If a person has manifiested spiritual fruit, especially love (I John 4:7), you can rest assured that the God who gave him or her that heart is faithful to see that your loved one or friend will live with Him forever!

"Seeing Jesus" -

By Elder Jonathan Wise, Pastor

Video Version

In Exodus 33 Moses requested that the Lord show him His glory, to which God replied that “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live (vs. 20).” Yet in the New Testament Paul tells the Hebrew brethren to run their race with patience “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). Earlier in the epistle the apostle had said, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death...(Heb. 2:9).

So how can we see Jesus when God says nobody can see the glory of God (who Jesus is). The seeing under consideration is not literally physical sight but seeing by an eye of faith. The Apostle Peter told his readers concerning Christ, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Pet. 1:8). Unless one was alive during Jesus' personal ministry, they have not physically seen the Lord Jesus. However, because the Lord has worked His sovereign work of grace in our hearts, His children can see Christ’s mercy and grace manifest in our lives. We can rest assured that because we see ourselves as guilty, bankrupt sinners that Christ has written His law in our minds and hearts (Heb. 8:10) and has successfully put away our sins by His death. As we walk in the light we have, we are able to see more and more of the glimpses of Christ’s glory that are available to us in this sin-cursed world, thus conforming our lives more and more to His example (2 Cor. 3:18). Finally, when the Lord comes back the second time we will have perfect, everlasting sight of His glory for we “shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

How are you born again? (Part 2)
By Elder Jonathan Wise, Pastor

Video Version
 
            We discussed last week the scriptural teaching of the “new birth” or “regeneration.”
Another view of how the new birth occurs is that of gospel regeneration, which advocates the Lord uses the preaching of the gospel as the means by which his elect children are born again. The gospel is indeed a powerful thing, as believing in the Lord Jesus and following him should affect tremendous and powerful change in someone’s life. However, the scripture is also very clear that the purpose of the gospel is to simply bring “life and immortality to light" (2 Tim. 1:10). Said another way, the gospel declares or makes known (brings to light) what Christ has done on our behalf in paying the penalty for our sins and imparting eternal life unto us. It can only be believed and understood by people who already are born again of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:12-14).
Jesus himself said in John 3:8, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” This tells us every child of God is born again of the Spirit in the exact same way. There was no preached gospel during the times of the Old Testament, yet we have the testimony of faithful saints who manifested great faith (Heb. 11) and other fruits of the Spirit.(Gal. 5:22-23). These people were obviously born of the Spirit apart from any preached gospel. They were born again the same way every child of God is, by the sovereign working of the Holy Spirit.

Little Flock Primitive Baptist Church

The Parable of the Sower
By Elder Jonathan Wise


VIDEO VERSION
           One of Jesus’ most well-known parables is that of the sower,found in the gospel accounts of Matthew 13, Mark 4 (referenced) and Luke 8. In it, a sower (farmer) goes forth to sow (plant), representing a man of God going forth to preach the good news of the gospel (“the word”). Jesus uses the analogy of a farmer planting and later reaping the harvest to illustrate four different categories of responses to the message of Jesus Christ, which we will paraphrase for sake of space.
            The seed in the first part of the parable fell “by the wayside” and was devoured by fowls of the air, said by Jesus to represent people falling victim to Satan, who comes immediately and “taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts (Mark 4:15).” These people might not display much of any visible fruit or gospel obedience to the Lord. The second group sprang up quickly and then quickly whithered away in the sun, which represents individuals who are very zealous believers/disciples at fi rst after embracing the gospel, but they swiftly because offended or discouraged and fall away because of a lack of deep-rooted foundations (Mark 4:17). The third category of seed fell “among thorns,” which grew up and choked it out, so that it brought forth no fruit. This respresents people who, perhaps despite good intentions, do not serve the Lord as they should because of the “cares of this world” and the “deceitfulness of riches (Mark 4:19).” It is my conviction this is perhaps the most common category we see in modernday churches. We let things that might not necessarily be sinful, such
as a commitment to advancing in our career, our hobbies, our children’s
activities, take precedent over our service to God. This will always lead to a lack of fruitful service to our God, because it is idolatry (anything that becomes more of a priority than the Lord in our lives). The final category is seed that falls on “good ground (Mark 4:20),” and it represents people who embrace the gospel and live with dedicated, fruit-bearing service to God.
      The major point we want to make about this parable is that contrary to what is taught in some circles, all four categories of people  are children of God, chosen through election and redeemed in full on the cross (Eph. 1:4-7). However, their visible fruit in this life will vary greatly based on their obedience. Falling short of God’s standards will result in chastisement but not the loss of that purchased salvation (Rev. 3:19). Even the first category of wayside hearers are described in a very important way that the word “was sown in their heart (vs. 15)” before it was taken away by Satan. The bible repeatedly teaches the word cannot reach the heart (soul) of a person unless that individual has already been given spiritual/eternal life by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:1, 1 Corinthians 2:14, Hebrews 4:2, Acts 13:48). Being blinded by the devil does not change the fact that every one who through the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit He has “begun a good work in” will live with Him in heaven (Philippians 1:6).