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At What Point Are We Saved?

Saved

The Bible teaches that we transition from lost to saved when the Holy Spirit comes to live inside us. 

6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. (Rom. 8:6-9 NIV)

This passage in Romans is quite clear on the matter. If the Holy Spirit does not govern or influence you, he doesn’t dwell in you! If you do not have the Spirit, you do not belong to Christ. Either the Spirit lives in you and influences you, or you are lost! There are no saved people who do not have the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit saves us at the exact moment He comes to live within us. The Scriptures teach that His indwelling is simultaneous with our sins being taken away. This conclusion is not controversial with most Bible students. The controversy comes into play when we attempt to pin down when the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us. The Bible does give us clues as to when it happens.

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Baptism

“Buried With Him In Baptism”

Buried in baptism

Although he doesn’t use the phrase “born again,” Paul describes the process of rebirth when says that we are “buried with Him in baptism.” We know that being born again is somehow related to the work of the Holy Spirit, but what is the Spirit doing during a person’s conversion? 

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. (Rom. 6:1-7 ESV)

Is Paul paralleling our conversion to that of a proselyte conversion? It sure seems that way. In embracing Judaism the proselyte dies to his pagan ways and undergoes circumcision and immersion. The community considers him to be born again and is in every way a Jew.

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Baptism

Baptism: “You Must Be Born Again”

Born again

What does the Holy Spirit do in our conversion? Perhaps the best place to begin answering this question is in John 3:5 when Jesus said, “You must be born again.” If we are to understand any New Testament text, we must know how a first century Jew would have understood it. In this passage, Jesus (who was a Jew) was talking with Nicodemus (a Jewish rabbi). 

Knowing that “born again” referred to a conversion to Judaism gives insight into the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Nicodemus wondered, “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?” (John 3:4).  From his Jewish perspective, Nicodemus essentially asked, “How can I convert to Judaism if I am already a Jew?” Jesus answered, “A man must be born of water and Spirit” (John 3:5). He was explaining to Nicodemus that he could not rely on his family tree to enter the kingdom of heaven. 

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Baptism

Baptism: Where Did It Come From?

Bubbles

There are any number of things God could have commanded to mark our entrance into a new life in Christ. What is the significance of being immersed in water? Can we speculate as to why God may have chosen baptism? I would like to suggest that God chose to use immersion because it was something that the Jews were already doing.

Baptism wasn’t new to first century Jews

It is a common misconception that immersion originated with John the Baptist. 

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Mk. 1:4 ESV)

In fact, the Jews had a very long history of immersion for ritual purification. There are a number of commands in the Law of Moses which required washing or bathing of both objects and people to restore the thing or person to a ritually pure state (Lev 15:5, for example). The Hebrew word translated as bathe is rachatz. The word is non-specific regarding the manner of the bathing, but was understood by the rabbis to be full immersion as the following quote explains.

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Baptism

Abraham The Mercenary?

Abraham the mercenary.
Melchizedek blessing Abraham (1897 illustration by Charles Foster)

Abraham was likely a Habiru and possibly a mercenary. Some Habiru hired themselves out as mercenaries to provide protection for cities. It may surprise you to learn there is biblical evidence suggesting that Abraham may have been a Habiru mercenary.

Genesis 14 records the rebellion of five vassal kings from their distant overlords. One of the city-states that rebelled was Sodom where Abraham’s nephew, Lot, had taken up residence. The coalition of four kings who came to put down the rebellion took Lot, and others, captive.

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Genesis