Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. – Philippians 4:4-9 KJV
And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. – Acts 18:29-31
A first-century inscription reads, “The beginning of the gospel of Caesar Augustus.” The word “gospel” was used in the first century to refer to an objective fact of crucial importance to the world at large. That Caesar Augustus had ascended to the throne was fact about which all of the empire had to hear because of its tremendous effects. However, during Augustus’ reign (27 BC to 14 AD), there was a king born whose ascension to the throne would be far more significant than any king throughout history. The Gospel of His Kingship is still being heralded today.
Mark 1:1 reads, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Early on the Gospel accounts introduce John, who heralded the nearby coming of a kingdom and baptized in the Jordan those supplicants who responded for remission of sins (Mt. 3:1-12; Mk. 1:2-8; Lk. 3:2-17; Jn. 1:15-28). Those of the Jewish nation who responded were a cleansed remnant, as promised by the prophets, who looked for the hope and restoration of Israel (Isa. 1:9, 16; 66:20; Ezek. 36:33; Zech. 3:1-10). John’s baptism was different than anything the Jewish people had seen in purification ceremonies in that he, as a spokesman for God, immersed people for remission of sins, rather than people administering washing for themselves; thus, he was given the name “Baptizer” or “Immerser” and his authority was questioned by the religious leaders of the day, who refused to give a definitive answer (Jn. 1:25-26; cf. Mt. 21:25; Mk. 11:30; Lk. 20:4).
Jesus was the coming greater one, to whom John had pointed his followers. Water baptism “in the name of Jesus” is submission to the authority of this greater one who has come, died, and is risen. Just before ascending to the Father to sit on the throne, Jesus acknowledged His universal authority and commanded His disciples to make more disciples by teaching all nations and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:18-20). The participle “baptizing” shows that it, (along with going and teaching), is the means by which disciples are made. Disciples of Jesus are to administer this baptism in making more disciples (Mt. 28:19).
Mark’s account of Jesus’ commission is, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:15-16). Not only Jews, but people of all nations, were to be baptized in the name of Jesus. The book of Acts records significant events in the history of the early church carrying out this command. The Samaritans, both men and women, heard about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ and were baptized (Acts 8:12). The Ethiopian eunuch heard Philip preach Jesus and stopped his chariot to be baptized in water (Acts 8:26-39). Acts shows that even Gentiles like Cornelius’ household and friends (10:47-48), the keeper of the prison at Philippi (16:33), the Corinthians (18:8,) and Ephesians (19:5) were baptized in water when they believed the Gospel. Baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus is a command to be obeyed, distinct from the Holy Spirit’s power coming upon an individual (Acts 8:16; 10:48).
All of human history can be understood from the perspective of Jesus coming to earth to save those who would submit to His Lordship. Submitting to His Lordship includes dying to self, being united with Christ’s death, and being raised to be a servant of righteousness; these are done in baptism (Rom. 6:3-7; 17-18). If I do not submit to Christ’s Lordship, history will leave me in its wake. Peter announced the ascension of Christ to the throne at the right hand of God (Acts 2:32-36). He then instructed men to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) to save themselves (Acts 2:40) for baptism saves (1 Pet. 3:21). Have you responded to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Do not just call Him Lord (Mt. 7:21), but put Him on as Lord by obeying Him in baptism (Gal. 3:26-27).
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. – Matthew 5:13-16 KJV
I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh. – Romans 9:1-3 KJV
What are your greatest desires? One of Paul’s greatest desires was to be with the Lord; he considered being with Christ would be far better than anything earthly life offered (Philippians 1:23). Paul longed for and loved Christ’s appearing (2 Timothy 4:8). Paul also had a great desire for others to be saved in that day. He wrote in Romans 10:1, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” Paul wanted his fellow Christians to know that he greatly desired the salvation of his kinsfolk, the Jewish people. The fact that many of the Jews had refused to open their hearts to the Gospel of Jesus Christ caused Paul “great heaviness and continual sorrow” in his heart (Romans 9:2).
Our strongest desire should be to please God and go to heaven. It ought to be the aim of our entire life. Colossians 3:1-4 says:
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” God’s commandments are righteousness (Psalm 119:172). Those who want to please God should desire His word more than food. When tempted to turn the surrounding stones into bread, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 and said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). It is expected that Christians desire the word of God as a baby desires milk (1 Peter 2:2). Partaking of God’s word will cause us to grow. God, and the word of His grace, is able to build us up and give us an inheritance among all who are sanctified (Acts 20:32).
This week, brother Jerry Carmichael will be preaching God’s word. We have been looking forward to this week for some time. Among other topics, brother Carmichael will address “My Heart’s Desire” and “The Perfect Law of the Lord” from Psalm 19:7-11. Without a doubt the law of the Lord can convert the soul, make wise the simple, cause rejoicing in the heart, and enlighten the eyes. Do you desire to hear it? Saving faith comes from hearing it (Romans 10:17).
Cornelius gathered his close friends and family to hear the word of God (Acts 10:24). He said to Peter, “Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God” (Acts 10:33). Do you look forward to heaven? Do you desire to hear the word of God that provides all the necessary instructions on how to please God in order to be with Him in heaven (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:3)? Will you gather together with us this week before God in order to hear all things that Jerry Carmichael will preach to us from the Scriptures?