What Are Sacraments ?

 

sacraments

 

 

 

 

Almost all Christian religious groups will speak of “sacraments”.  But what are sacraments?  What does the word “sacrament” mean?  Let’s start with the meaning of the word “sacrament”.  The word itself comes from the Latin word, “sacramentum”, and it’s meaning is.. “a solemn oath”.  “Sacramentum” comes from another Latin word, “sacrare” meaning.. “to hallow, or to consecrate”.   And to “hallow, or consecrate” means..  to make something holy.  Such as, in what people call “the Lord’s prayer”, where it says, “Hallowed be Thy name”.  That simply means.. “May Thy name be Holy”.

 

Now if you look up the etymology of the word “sacrament”, you’ll be told of course that it comes from the Latin word ‘sacramentum”.  But then you’ll also be told that “sacramentum” comes from the Greek word “Mysterion”.  “Mysterion” is where we get our English word “mystery” from.  But you might wonder, how on earth did anyone ever get “sacramentum” from “mysterion”?  And you’d be right to wonder how that would come about.  That doesn’t make sense, does it?  But there’s a story behind these words that does make sense.

 

The truth is that “sacramentum” never really came from the word “mysterion”.  But rather it was chosen as a “replacement” for the word “mysterion”.   In the bible, you never see the word sacrament do you?  You’ll see all those words like, solemn oath, and hallow, and holy, and consecrate, but not sacrament.  So the word sacrament, is not really a scriptural word is it?   We do see the word “mystery” used in the bible though.  As a matter of fact, in the King James Version of the bible, the word mystery is used 21 times.  And the word mysteries, plural, is used another 5 times.  But here’s the interesting thing.  The bible never even ONCE, uses the word mystery, in reference to the things that the denominational world uses the word sacrament in reference to.  For instance, denominations refer to baptism as a “sacrament”.  And they also refer to the communion, as a “sacrament”.  And the Catholic church has an additional five other things that they refer to as “sacraments”.  But the bible NEVER uses the word “mysterion” in reference to ANY  of these things.  So where’s the connection, between the words “sacramentum” and “mysterion”?

 

mystery-of-the-gospelThe bible speaks of the mystery of the gospel, in  Ephesians 6:19.   That verse says, “And pray in my behalf (the apostle Paul is writing this) that utterance may be given to me, in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness, the mystery of the gospel”.   And Paul wrote in  Colossians 1:26,  “That is the mystery which has been HIDDEN from the past ages and generations, but NOW has been manifested to His saints”.    So now it’s not a mystery any longer is it?

 

And Paul continued to speak of the gospel, and of the knowledge of Christ, and of God’s ways as a mystery.  He wrote to Timothy,  “Great is the mystery of godliness”.   1 Tim 3:16.   Listen to what he wrote to the congregation at Rome.  “For I do not want you brethren to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation..”   Romans 11:25.   Now that verse is specifically speaking about what the scripture refer to as  “a partial hardening of the nation of Israel until the gentiles came in”.   And so we can see that this mystery really has to do with the whole plan of salvation, that God had “eternally purposed in Christ”, from before the foundation of the world.   Ephesians 3:11

 

Here’s what Jesus said to His apostles and His closest followers.  In  Mark 4:11.  Jesus said,  “To YOU has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables..”  Those people who were “outside” as Jesus put it, they were the ones who didn’t have “ears to hear”.  They didn’t WANT to hear what Jesus had to say.  Jesus said in  V-12,  “..in order that while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, lest they return and be forgiven.”  So Jesus spoke in parables, so that those who really didn’t want to know the truth, wouldn’t understand the truth.  But to those who wanted the truth, to them it was given to know it and to understand it. 

It’s just like those who don’t have a LOVE of the truth.  We’re told in  2 Thessalonians 2:11,  “For THIS reason God will send them a working of delusion, that they might believe a lie”..  or you could translate it, “what is false”, or an “untruth”.   And that phrase, “a working of delusion”;  That does NOT mean that God is taking away their “free will”.  Those who don’t have a love of the truth, still have it within their own power to choose.  They have CHOSEN to not love the truth.  But there’s is a consequence to not having a love for truth.  And that consequence is, that God will “send” or in other words, He will “transmit” or “permit” this working of delusion.  That’s exactly what that word send means.  That delusion will be transmitted to you, and God will permit it.

 

strong-delusionThere are two Greek words that are translated “a working of delusion”.  The KJV says “a strong delusion”.  the NASB says “a deluding influence”.   Here’s what the original Greek words mean.  First, the word translated “a working”, is the Greek word, “en-erg’-iah”.  It’s where we get our word “energy” from.  The word means “working, or action, or activity”.  Strong’s Concordance says that in the New Testament, the word is confined to “superhuman” activity.  Let’s go back to  V-9.   for a minute.  It says here speaking of “lawlessness”,  “The one whose coming is in accord with the en-erg’-iah of satan, with all the power and signs and false wonders”.   The same word is used here, “energy”.

 

There is “energy” in the spirit of evil, isn’t there?  There’s a “force” there, that’s trying to get you and me to believe a lie!   Now, here’s the second word in that phrase, ‘a working of delusion”.  The word is “plan’ey”, and it means..  “a wandering, or an error”.  Also “deceit, delusion, error, and sin”.   So the power of satan, or the power of the spirit of evil, definitely has an influence on us.  It is “working”, with all it’s energy. to make us believe what is false.  To make us wander from the truth, and to be deluded, into believing a lie.  A LIE is false doctrine!

 

But Jesus told His disciples,  “To YOU it has been granted to KNOW the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to THEM it has not been granted”.   Mathew 13:11  

 

So now, let’s get back to this business of how the word “sacrament” ever got to be used instead of the word “mystery”.   Those are two different, and separate words.  Like I said, the bible never uses the word mystery, to refer to the things that denominations refer to with the word “sacrament”.  It’s not surprising that the Latin word “sacramentum” first came to be used by someone who was actually “changing” what the bible says.  Sacrament, first came to be used in reference to baptism, somewhere is the third century, by a so-called, “church father” whose name was Tertullian.  You can find a lot of writings by Tertullian if you simply do a search on the internet for “writings of the early church fathers”.   The thing that I find standing out most prominently, about most of the writings of the “church fathers”, is the realization of how many teachings and practices from the bible, were changed by these men.  So I’m not much of a “fan” of the “church fathers”.   I’m sure that they stood up for a lot of good teachings of Christ, but I’m also just as sure, that they had the tendency to change things, according to their own understandings.   So although we can learn a lot from what the “church fathers” wrote, we can’t rely on their practices or their beliefs, when they vary from the bible.

 

So, let’s go to the Greek word “mysterion”.  “Mysterion” means.. “something hidden or secret”.   In the second and third centuries, the pagans used this word to describe the “rite of initiation” of people into their “religion”.   It was a “mysterious thing” to be involved in their cults.  Why do you think there was so much “mystery” involved with their “rite of initiation”?   Wouldn’t their whole religion be, one great mystery?  They worshipped gods that really didn’t even exist!  They knew NOTHING about these so called “gods”.  All they knew was what their imaginations could tell them.  And so it’s no wonder to me, why there was so much “mysterion” attached to their beliefs and maybe especially to the “rite of initiation” into their religion.

 

pagan-cult

 

 

Now here’s where the connection comes in with Christianity.  Who have God’s people always, and historically, wanted to be “like”?    They have always wanted to be like the people around them, haven’t they?  Well, it wasn’t any different in the third century, and so Christians began using the word “mysterion” to refer to THEIR “rite of initiation” you might say, into the body of Christ.  How do we come into the body of Christ?  It’s through baptism, isn’t it?   Peter said,  “Repent and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins..”   Acts 2;38.    And  V-41  says,  “So then those who received his words WERE baptized, and there were added that day about 3,000 souls”.    And it says in V-47,   “And the Lord was adding to the congregation day by day, those who were being saved.”   So in the process of being converted and being saved, the final step is to be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins, right?  That’s exactly what the scriptures say, so we KNOW it’s right. 

 

So the third century Christians, in wanting to be like the people around them, adopted the word “mysterion” and applied it to their own “rite” of baptism.    Now there’s nothing mysterious about baptism is there?   Our God has told us exactly what baptism is.  Baptism is “a burial into the death of Christ”,  Rom 6:3-4,  where we die to sin, and it is being “raised to walk in newness of life”  v-4  again,  and it’s the “new birth” spoken of in  John 3:3   “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”.  V-5.   And God has told us that baptism is “FOR the forgiveness of your sins”   Acts 2;38.  God has revealed to us salvation, through faith in Christ, and obedience to His word.  It USED to be a mystery, but not anymore!

 

So you’ve got the picture of the progression of things.  The pagan religions were using the word “mysterion” in reference to their false religions, which they really had NO knowledge about at all, because there wasn’t anything to know, their gods didn’t even exist!  It was all just imagination.  But the Christians borrowed their word “mysterion”, or adopted their word, and applied it to their own religion.  Now Tertullian enters into the picture.   Tertullian evidently was a fairly powerful man with a lot of influence.  The writings that I’ve read, say that Tertullian didn’t want there to be any “confusion” between Christians and pagans, and so he changed the word “mysterion” that the Christians had begun to use, and he began to use the word “sacramentum”, in reference to baptism.

 

Personally, I think it may have been more “embarrassing”, than confusing, to adopt a pagan term into our Christian activities.  Wouldn’t it have been a whole lot LESS embarrassing, and a lot less confusing also, just to call baptism and communion by the words that God himself uses in the bible?

imagesSDRTBJ8NBaptism is an immersion, that’s what the Greek word “baptidzo” means..  To immerse, or to plunge.  It’s a “burial” in water, just like the scriptures say,  “we are buried with Him in baptism..”   Rom 6:4.    And the word “communion”, it’s a “sharing”, and it’s a “remembrance”.   “Is not the cup of blessing, a sharing in the blood of Christ?  Is not the bread which we break, a sharing in the body of Christ?”   1 Cor 10:16.   Jesus said,  “This is My body which is for you; Do this in remembrance of Me”.  This cup is the new covenant in My blood; Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me”.   1 Cor 11:24-24.   The communion is also a “proclamation”.   “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death, untill He comes”.   V-26

 

Is baptism a sacrament?  Well, remember that sacrament means..  “a solemn oath”.   Are we making an oath to God when we’re baptized?  We should be.  We should be promising God that we are turning our lives over to Him.  We are dying to our old self, and being born again of water and the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

 

And are we making ourselves hallow, or holy?  Again, we should be.  Our lives should now be lives lived to the Lord, led by the Spirit.  1 Peter 2:9  says,  “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation”.   And  Galatians 5:25  tells us,  “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”  But is this a mystery?  Not if we read the bible it isn’t. 

 

In the fifth century, St Augustine, of the Roman Catholic church, and the Bishop of the church in the city of Hippo, (Hippo was a city in what now is Algeria, in Africa) began to describe a “sacrament” as “an outward sign of an inward, or invisible grace”.  But that statement is something that’s entirely made up by man.  There’s nothing biblical at all about the idea of something being an outward sign of an inward grace.  The “sign” of God’s grace is all around us, in all the wonderful blessings that He showers upon each and every one of us every day.  And the “sign” of His spiritual grace, is seen abundantly in the bible, the very word of God.  Salvation in Jesus Christ IS the grace of God!

 

preach the wordWe read in  Romans 5:1-2,  “Therefore having been justified by faith (faith in the gospel and in Christ) we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have obtained our introduction into this grace in which we stand, and we can exult in hope of the glory of God”.  So we “stand in this grace”.   1 Cor 15:1  says,  “Now I make known to you the gospel, which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, IF you hold fast the word which I preached to you..”   So we “stand in God’s grace, and we “stand in His gospel”.   The gospel of Christ IS the grace of God.   And there’s no mystery about it, all we need to know is written clearly in His word.   And His word is the only “sign” we’ll ever need.

 

As far as any other “outward sign”, well, that sounds a lot like Baptist doctrine to me.  The Baptists probably don’t realize how much they owe to the Catholics.   Baptists believe that they are saved simply by “accepting Jesus into their hearts”.  And baptism is simply “an outward sign, of an inward grace”.  The “grace” being the fact that they believe God has already saved them BEFORE they are baptized.  The only reason a Baptist is baptized, is to “display” their belief that they’ve already been saved.  That’s quite a “change” from what Peter preached on the day of Pentecost when he said,  “Repent and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, FOR the forgiveness of your sins..”   Acts 2;38.   And it’s quite a “change” from the words of the Lord’s servant Ananias, who told Paul,  “And now, why do you delay, arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on Him.”   Acts 22:16.    How are you gonna be saved, until you wash away your sins? 

 

St Augustine by the way, went on to describe over three hundred “rituals” as “sacraments”.  The Roman church gradually reduced this number to seven.  And that’s where it remain to this day.  Catholics today believe in seven “sacraments”.   Most of the other denominations only consider baptism and communion as “sacraments”.   However some Protestant groups also include “confirmation” as a sacrament.

 

Should we use the word “sacrament” in speaking of our religious activities?  The bible never does.  Does that hold any weight with you, that the bible doesn’t use that term?  Whenever we use words and terms that are foreign to the bible, it always leads to a certain amount of confusion.  Supposedly, that’s what Tertullian was trying to avoid.  So how about this “rule of grammar”;  Let’s call bible things by bible names.  And while we’re at it, let’s DO bible things in bible ways.  And let’s remember the word of God which says,  “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God”.   1 Peter 4:11.   If everyone would just do that, then I do believe, there wouldn’t be ANY confusion. 

 

Thanks for joining us in this study, and may God bless you in every study of His word.  Please leave your comments in the space below.

 

 

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  1. Thanks for your study of the word sacraments. We are in complete agreement. I have many doubts however about COC teaching on baptism. How can you be sure the English word “for” is a good modern day rendition of the “eis” is Acts 2:38? Also John 3:3 where it speaks of being born of water and spirit are following a question about natural childbirth. How can being born of water not be referencing childbirth? Also the several places where believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is the only requirement for salvation. I am certainly a proponent of baptism as it is a command and not an option. I think no less of the COC for believing it is a requirement for salvation except where it engenders exclusivity or superiority.

    1. Hello Neal. Thanks for your comments and questions. Let’s address your question concerning how we can be sure that “for” is a correct translation of the original Greek word “eis”. Let me give you the exact definition of “eis”, from three different sources. First; “Strong’s Concordance” of new testament words says; “Eis” can mean any of the following.. “into, in, unto to, upon, towards, for, among”.
      Strong’s says the word is a primary preposition
      The definition is as follows;
      To or into (indicating the point reached or entered, of place, time, fig. purpose, result)

      Second; “Helps Word Studies”, gives this definition; 1519 eis (a preposition) – properly, into (unto) – literally, “motion into which” implying penetration (“unto,” “union”) to a particular purpose or result.

      Third; Thayer’s Greek Lexicon
      STRONGS NT 1519: εἰς..
      εἰς, a preposition governing the accusative, and denoting entrance into, or direction and limit: into, to, toward, for, among. It is used to describe the place entered into, as related to a specific verb. (in the case of baptism “eis” the forgiveness of your sins, “eis” describes what the action of baptism, causes us to enter into, namely, the forgiveness of sins)

      Notice how all of these definitions are clear on the fact that the word “eis”, indicates “motion or direction”. From one point or place or condition, INTO another point, place or condition. Pertaining to the verse in question, Acts 2:38; Baptism brings one INTO the point of the forgivness of their sins. “Repent and let each one of you be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ “EIS” (or INTO) the forgiveness of your sins..” In other words, the baptism is “for the purpose” of entering a state of forgiveness, for your sins. It’s really quite clear when you understand the meaning of the word “eis”.

      Please consider the subject from this angle. The scripture plainly states that baptism is “eis” the forgiveness of your sins. And since the word “eis” indicates movement, or direction, from one point, to another, it is clear that baptism PRECEEDS the forgiveness of sins. In other words, baptism is what “moves you” to the point, or to the position, of having your sins forgiven. Many people will argue that baptism comes AFTER you are forgiven of your sins. But that belief stands in stark contradiction to the very meaning of the word “eis”! Baptism MUST come BEFORE the forgiveness of sins, because Acts 2:38 says that baptism, is what brings us INTO (eis) the forgiveness of sins.

      There is simply no doubt about the meaning of the word “eis”. It’s simply a matter of believing what it says. Everything that we do, in obeying the commands of God, is FOR the forgiveness of our sins. Our sins are what separate us from God. (Isaiah 59:2). We believe, so that we can be forgiven of our sins. We are commanded to repent, so that we can be forgiven. We are commanded to be baptized, so that we can be forgiven. We are commanded to be willing to confess our faith in Jesus, so that w can be forgiven. And we are commanded to “continue faithful unto death” (Rev 2:10) so that we can be forgiven of our sins. There’s really no m ore that can be said about the word “eis”, and about the fact that baptism is FOR the forgiveness of sins. Thanks so much for studying this subject with me.

    2. Hi Neal. Let’s study the questions you’ve posed concerning John 3:3. (also John 3:5) In John 3:3, Jesus states a fact, and a truth, to Nicodemus. Jesus said; “Truly, truly, I say to you; Unless one is born again (or born “from above”), he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The word translated “again”, also means “from above”. Nicodemus obviously fails to consider the “from above” connotation, as we can see from his response. Verse 4 says; “Nicodemus said to Him; 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?” So Nicodemus obviously was focusing on another physical birth, which as he suggests, would be impossible.

      But Jesus said nothing about a physical birth. What Jesus specifically said, was that unless one is born “again, from above”, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus explains further in verse 5; “..Unless one is born of water, and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” You might notice too, that Nicodemus never brings up again, the suggestion of a physical birth after Jesus tells him that one must be born of water and the Spirit.

      Now Jesus goes on to explain further, and He makes a contrast between the physical and the spiritual. He says; “That which is born of flesh, is flesh. And that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you; You must be born again, from above.”
      Nicodemus simply answers by asking; “How can these things be?” In other words, Nicodemus doesn’t understand what Jesus means by this. And Jesus is somewhat surprised, that Nicodemus, a supposed “teacher of Israel” doesn’t understand these spiritual things. (V-10)

      So, Jesus has made it perfectly clear, that He is NOT talking about a physical birth, but rather a spiritual birth, which is “from above”. I think there is little or no misunderstanding concerning the fact that we are “born of the Spirit”. 1 Peter 1:23 says; “For you have been born again, not of seed which is perishable, but imperishable. That is, the living and abiding word of God.” A Christian, is “born” of the word of God, which is imperishable. And Jesus says that His words are “Spirit”, in John 6:63. (“The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life”)

      So then, that’s pretty clear to everyone I think. But what about being “born of water’. There’s where the questions arise. However it is illustrated perfectly in Romans 6:4; “Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism.. (in other words, our old sinful self is “put to death, and buried, in baptism) ..in order that as Christ was raised from the dead, by the glory of the Father, so we too, might walk in newness of life.” Just like Jesus said; “..I was dead, and behold, I am alive forever more..” (Rev 1:18). So too, the Christian, who was dead in sin, has been “baptized into His death” (Rom 6:3) so that just like Christ was “raised from the dead, by the glory of the Father”, we too area raised from the water of baptism, “to walk in newness of life”. That “newness of life”, is our rebirth! We are “Born again”, out of the water of baptism, to “walk in newness of life”. Thus Jesus was correct to say; Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

      You can easily see how consistent the scriptures are, in presenting, and describing, the new birth. It’s also worth noting, that not only are we baptized “into” the forgiveness of our sins (see my response to the question concerning baptism “for” the forgiveness of sins) but we are also baptized “into” the kingdom of God. Acts 2:41 verifies this, when it says; “So then those who had received his word, were baptized, and there were added that day, about 3,000 souls.” Those souls were added, by God Himself, to His kingdom, the church. Acts 2:47 says; “..And the LORD was adding to the church, daily, those who were being saved.” It’s really all very clear and easy to understand if we consider all these verses together. We just have to BELIEVE what it says. Thank you again, for studying these things with me.

    3. Please allow me to comment on your statement concerning the idea that there are several places in the scriptures where believing is the only requirement for salvation. One such verse would of course be John 3:16, where it says; “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Another verse would be Acts 16:31, which says; “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.” I realize that many people conclude from verses such as these, that belief is the ONLY requirement for salvation. But that conclusion is unwarranted because of a vast number of other verses, that contradict that conclusion.

      For instance; Acts 2:38 says; “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Now, the “gift of the Holy Spirit”, is the promise of eternal life, which equates to salvation. Therefore, this verse is saying that if you repent and are baptized, you’ll receive salvation. But it is not a proper conclusion, to assume that repentance and baptism are the ONLY requirements for salvation. All the verses that specify belief as a requirement for salvation, go to prove that just repentance and baptism aren’t the only things required.

      But how about verses like Mark 13:13, which says; “..But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.” That verse doesn’t say anything about faith or believing, or repenting, or being baptized or anything. So then do we simply have to endure all the trials of this life, and then we’ll be saved? That wouldn’t be logical to come to that conclusion, given all the verses that specify things like faith and repentance and baptism and confession, as being requirements for salvation.

      Jesus said in Mark 16:16; “He who believes and is baptized, shall be saved.” There we have two requirements specified; Believing and being baptized. And as I said, Acts 2:38 specifies two requirements, but believing is NOT one of them. “Repent and be baptized” are the requirements. Acts 10:10 specifies two requirements, and they are believing and confessing. Romans 8:24 says; “In hope we have been saved..” So if we take just that one verse, without considering all the other verses that speak about salvation, we could conclude that all we have to do to be saved, is to just hope for salvation. But that’s not logical, because we’d be ignoring all the verses that specify other things that God specifies as “requirements” for salvation.

      So what’s the answer? Are we all free to choose which of the many verses that speak of salvation, that we will believe, to the exclusion of all the others? That’s not logical either, is it? No, the only logical conclusion that we could possibly reach, is that EVERYTHING that God specifies, in every verse that speaks about salvation, MUST be included as a requirement for salvation. We do not have the right to pick and choose, which ONE of God’s specified actions, we will accept as a requirement. If God says it, then it’s required!

      If God says we must believe, then we must believe. If God says we must repent, then we must repent. If God say we must be baptized, then we must be baptized. If God says we must confess Him before men (Mat 10:32), then we must do it. If God says that we must endure to the end, then endure we must! God does NOT teach us everything we need to know about salvation, in just ONE verse! We must be willing to study His word, and believe EVERYTHING He tells us.

      In one verse, God tells us to believe and be baptized. In another verse He tells us to repent and be baptized. In another verse He tells us to confess Him, or be denied. And in another He tells us to endure. How many of God’s commands must we obey? We must obey them ALL!

      Here’s another very important fact to remember. When God speaks of faith, or believing, He equates it with obedience. A perfect example of this is in John 3:36, which says; “He who believes in the Son, has eternal life. But he who does NOT obey the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” He who believes, is contrasted with he who does NOT obey. In other words, believing is equated with obeying. (in God’s eyes) Another example of this is in Hebrews 3:18 & 19, which says; “And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient. And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.” So then, in these verses, unbelief is equated with disobedience, and in the verse from John, believing is equated with obeying.

      That makes it very easy to see, that when God’s word says that we will be saved if we believe, He is equating our belief with obeying ALL of His commands related to salvation. If we truly believe, then we will be willing to repent, and confess, and be baptized, and to remain faithful, enduring to the end. But if our faith dies, then we will also stop obeying, which will lead to our being lost.

      I truly hope that this helps you to understand what the bible teaches concerning what is required for salvation. May God bless you in your study of His word.

    4. Hi Neal. Here is my last response to the questions that you raised. This is concerning your reference to exclusivity or superiority. First of all, ALL people are of equal importance to God. That fact is clearly expressed in the bible, from beginning to end. We are all equal in sin also. Man may want to “categorize” sin, but God says that ALL sin is equally as bad. It doesn’t matter if we’re a murderer, or just a liar. Either one causes us to be just as lost. God even equates hatred in our hearts, to being a murderer. (1 John 3:15) God says; “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) If we as Christians, harbor any other feelings, other than the ones God has expressed, then we’re not acting like Christians, and we’re guilty before God.

      But what about being saved? Does being saved make one “superior” to someone who has not been saved? The answer of course is NO! A saved person, is no “better” than an unsaved person. They’ve simply been forgiven of their sins, because they have chosen to believe in God, and in Jesus Christ, and to OBEY God and Jesus. We’re told in Luke 17:10; “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded, you say; We are still unworthy slaves, we have done only that which we ought to have done.” So therefore, a Christian, is no better than a non-Christian. A Christian has simply been saved, and the non-Christian, hasn’t.

      Exclusivity however, is a slightly different story. All saved persons, are somewhat exclusive, from unsaved persons, not because of anything they have done, but by what GOD has done. This is how God views Christians.. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness, into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9. God puts it this way, in Colossians 1:13; “For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of His beloved Son.” What both of these verses are saying, is that God has added Christians to HIS congregation of the saved.

      After the apostle Peter had preached to the Jews on the day of Pentecost, and told them to “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ, into the forgiveness of your sins..”, many of the people obeyed Peter’s words. And verse 41 says; “So then those who had received his words, were baptized, and there were added that day, about 3,000 souls.” Those 3,000 souls were added to the congregation of God’s saved. Many bible translations refer to this as “the church”. Acts 2:47 says; ‘..And the Lord added to the congregation, daily, whose who were being saved.” So then you can see, there is an “exclusivity” to the congregation of God. God Himself takes every person that He saves, and He adds them to His assembly, commonly called the church. That is how ALL Christians are somewhat “exclusive” from non-Christians. But are they any better? NO. Are they “superior” in any way? NO. Again, if a Christian harbors any such feelings or attitude, then they stand condemned before God. Thanks again Neal. If you have any other questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to let me know. May God bless you and your family.

  2. Thank you so much for the subject on sacraments as shared on your page which gives bible answers to spiritual questions. Yes Baptism I believe comes from the greek word baptizo which means to immerse or plunge into. But I have a question. Does it mean if one is not immersed in baptism one has to be re-baptized? I am asking because I was baptized in an orthodox church when I was a baby and given a baptismal certificate. I was actually not immersed. The priest washed my head/hair with water. Will be glad to receive a response from you. Thanks and keep up with the good work. Remain blessed.

    1. Hello Bonto. Thank you for your visit here and for your comments and question. I have two articles here on the website specifically about baptism. I wish that you would read them. One is “What is Baptism?” and the other is “What is baptism for?” But to answer your question, YES, if you were not actually “baptized” then you definitely need to be baptized, otherwise you are still in sin. You see since “baptize” does mean to immerse, then anything short of immersion, is not baptism. Jesus commands us to be baptized, not to be sprinkled with water or to have water poured on our heads. God’s word says to be “immersed”. It’s as simple as that. Also, the baptism of infants is not a scriptural practice in the first place. You see, baptism is not the ONLY thing that we need to do to have our sins forgiven. We also need to believe and repent of our sins, before we are baptized. An infant can’t believe or repent. Then we need to be willing to confess our faith in Jesus. An infant can’t do that either. The fact of the matter is, that an infant is not guilty of any sin! Sin is a transgression of the law. 1 John 3:4 tells us, “Whoever commits sin, transgresses the law. For sin is the transgression of the law.” Now an infant cannot transgress the law, because an infant doesn’t have the capability of even knowing what a law is. Baptism is for believers in Christ, who are of sufficient age to realize their sins, and are willing to confess their sins and their faith, who repent of their sins, and are willing to have those sins washed away by being baptized for the forgiveness of those sins. Acts 2:38, and Acts 22:16, and 1 Peter 3:21.

      Please let me know how I can further help you. I can help you get in contact with brethren who can assist you in being baptized or in any other way that you need. Thanks so much, and may God bless you.

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