OriginalChristianity

Not Traditional, Original

The Vision of OriginalChristianity.Net

The vision of OriginalChristianity.Net is to look at the beliefs and practices of the the original Christians.  The reason why this is important is that over the millennium Christianity has developed numerous factions that all claim that that they are the true continuation of original Christianity.  I heard exactly that when I visited a Greek Orthodox Church, I have read it in Roman Catholic literature, it is in the bulletin of a local non-denominational church in my area.  They make these claims despite the fact that they have disagreed, even violently at times.  For other articles on this topic, see A Major Objection to the Restoration Movement Is That Christianity Has Not Changed Substantially Over Time, and Another Claim of Original Christianity in Practice Today,

Throughout this website are numerous articles written on the numerous divisions in the Church that we have today, how a lot of these doctrines developed that are behind all these divisions, and some key points on how original Christianity differed from today.  It is important to look at all these things because they are part of Christianity now and play a big part, perhaps more as obstacles, in the faith of the individual believer.

But the key point of this website is to be able to envision what original Christianity, and in particular the time of Jesus and the apostles and disciples that he touched was really like. There was an incredible spirituality. With the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah, and afterward the sending of the Holy Spirit we see the most incredible movement of God on earth since creation.

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This was a time of power, miracles, healing, and deliverance, not only by Jesus, but by those he touched, his apostles and disciples. People saw God in action through these men. They saw the word of God living, because they lived it together. There was incredible community and sharing. There was incredible believing. There was great faith.

It was a time of simple doctrine.  There were no official doctrines on infant baptism or believer’s baptism. There was no doctrine that prophecy and the other gifts and manifestations of the spirit had ceased. There were baptisms being carried out, and the last supper repeated as a memorial, but there were no “sacraments”, somehow mysteriously conveying grace by ritualistic practices. There were no autonomous churches disputing which form of church government was doctrinally correct, which end times theology was correct, or arguments over whether or not there was eternal security.

There was no argument over the status of the Bible, because there was no Bible. Jesus had referenced the law and the prophets, including the Psalms, as the word of God. And only those books with the addition of the words of Jesus were considered the word of God. There were no written Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There were no epistles of Peter, Paul, Hebrews, John, and Jude. So there was no argument over doctrines derived from them like eternal security, justification by grace, predestination, or even the Trinity.

Philosophy was rejected as an unwise practice of the Greeks that actually tore down faith more than it built, so discussion of faith wasn’t an analytical exercise in the nuances of the meanings of words, but rather simple directives, and powerful stories and analogies that emphasize the important meanings to be focused on while ignoring the myriad details that can lead people astray.

What existed was the good news that Jesus the Messiah had come, that he had fulfilled the law, had sent the Holy Spirit, and now many believers were walking in great faith and power. What existed was great praise, great faith, and great love of God.

All of this is not to say that this was an easy time. There were persecutions, challenges, and trials, as both the Jews and the Romans saw this burgeoning Christianity as a threat. But this just served to bring the Christians closer together, and more united in their faith.

Original Christianity was a time of great unity, simple doctrine, great believing, with many believers walking in the love of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

So as you read these articles that discuss all of the divisions, and developments, both good and bad throughout the millennia of history of Christianity, it is important to maintain the focus of the simple vision of original Christianity.  Pray, praise the Lord, walk in the power of the spirit, love God and love your neighbor, and rejoice in what Christ has done. Join together with any Christian who is doing the same.  And in the process perhaps we can bring some of what made original Christianity so great back to life.

© copyright 2012 Mark W Smith, all rights reserved.

Welcome to Original Christianity.Net

It appears that universally, in the church, we Christians marvel at both at Jesus’ miracles and the wisdom in his parables. We especially are in awe of his life, his incredible birth, his short but incredibly powerful ministry, his passion, death, and resurrection. We love him for those. We are also moved by the depth of the wisdom and inspiration of books like the Psalms and Proverbs. Almost universally, although most would say all true Christians, acknowledge him as Lord, and strive to follow his leadership as we walk in a dark world filled with daily challenges, including overcoming evil.

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In fact, there are some universal, and some almost universal, elements in Christianity. Universally held elements of Christianity include this deep awe of Christ, and likewise, for the bible. The bible, or at least for some, sections of the bible, such as the parables of Christ in the gospels, the powerful poetry of the Psalms, and the wisdom in Proverbs are universally held in the deepest regard. Almost universally held elements include the belief in Christ as the only begotten son of the Father, physically born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem, who died for out sins, and was raised from the dead and is presently seated at the right hand of God. Christians look forward to spending eternity with the Lord. Even more, there is common ground as churches promote worship, baptism, and communion with some similarity.

But beyond some basics like these, there is far less agreement on the tenets of Christianity. In fact, there is an elephant in the Church, an elephant of disagreement resulting in tens of thousands of sects, disagreeing on many doctrines.

The disagreements have been legion, often bloody, and always confusing. Christians have killed other Christians for defying the rule of infant baptism and proclaiming “believer’s baptism”. Many Christians have declared other Christians apostate because of their view of the Bible, whether it is inerrant, infallible, or at least partially of human origin.

And even if they agree on the status of the Bible, they don’t agree on what it says on these issues. For example, there is disagreement over basic principles of interpretation like whether the overriding principle is based on the covenants of God versus which dispensation we are in.

There are Christians that call other Christians apostate (traitorous) because they believe that the gifts of the spirit, i.e., prophecy and speaking in tongues, etc. still exist, and vice versa. These days there are sharp divides over homosexuality, abortion, the Word of Faith movement, the emergent Church movement, and the role of women in the church.

Even if Christians don’t call others apostate, they still disagree to the point of not fellowshipping over issues like: dietary laws (whether they need to be followed), drinking alcohol, end times (Eschatology), eternal security, evolution vs. literal seven days of creation, giving vs. tithing, predestination, psychology: the acceptability of Christian counseling, sacraments as conveyers of grace or not, the “in the name of Jesus” debate, and pacifism vs. the concept of a just war, and other issues.

Then there is the ecumenical concept of Christian “orthodoxy” that suggests that none of the issues so far discussed really matter even there are huge divisions over them. The only issue that really matters in “orthodoxy” is whether one accepts the doctrine of the Trinity, that Jesus the man is really God and a person in a triune godhead with two other persons, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. This doctrine is promoted as the absolutely most important concept in Christianity even though this emphasis is totally missing for the first centuries of the church.

And let alone that the very doctrine of the Trinity has been disputed over the centuries with more Christians killing other Christians over this issue than any other. It appears that for some that as long as a church accepts the doctrine of the Trinity it doesn’t matter if it teaches that homosexuality is normal or apostate, and/or abortion is choice or murder, and/or baptism should be infant baptism or believer’s baptism, and/or there are two “ordinances” or seven sacraments, and so forth, and so on.

This mess is a huge blemish on the body of Christ. Some of these issues may be legitimate, but to have so many “orthodox” churches teaching so many disparate doctrines flies right in the face of Paul’s charge for believers to have the same mind:

Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all say the same thing, and there be no divisions among you, but you be united in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10 LITV)

If, as Paul teaches, we corporately are the body of Christ, then does the current collective body of competing Christian theologies accurately reflect the mind of Christ. Certainly, no one can think so.

But, before the present time with our tens of thousands of Christian denominations, and before the Reformation that shifted the focus of Christianity from the decisions of church councils and the Pope to the Bible as the principle source of guidance, and before the great schism about a thousand years ago, even before there were arguments over the nature of Christ, the Trinity and whether Mary was the mother of God in the beginning of the age of Christendom (fourth century), even before there was a Catholic church (110 A.D.) there was original primitive Christianity.

While some of the focus of Christianity remains, much has changed over the millennia. The question is whether all or even any of the different traditions that have developed are correct, or the original believers were the ones that actually got it the most right. The place to start is by looking at the beliefs and practices of original, primitive Christianity, and seriously consider embracing them again even though some of them may be radically different from what you or I hold today.

In the days of original, primitive Christianity:

(In the listings below hyperlinks offer more information on the point being made.)

Elements usually still held today:

Elements still held today by some:

Elements held today by few, if any believers:

Elements that are divisive today but didn’t appear to exist then:

The most current blogs (articles) are below. The articles can touch on a large number of topics including ancient history, the original language of the bible, grammar and logic, dividing doctrines besides the basics of Christianity, what Jesus taught, and development (movements) in Christianity throughout the centuries. For an organized listing of the blogs (articles) to get an overview and better understanding of the contents on this web site, go to the table of contents. There is more information on design of this website on this page; look on the right sidebar under Original Christianity and click “Why? Click to Read More…”

T 1.63 There are Kind People Everywhere, We Don’t Wrestle People, We Wrestle Against the Spiritual Forces of Wickedness in the Heavenly Places

For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  (Eph 6:12 WEB)

Although it may appear so, scripture says that our Christian struggle is not with people.  Sure, there are people we may have problems with, whom we might consider unfriendly, or even evil that we definitely have to deal with.  And there are people and situations that we have to avoid in this spiritual walk.

But many people are kind.  Many have been kind to me over the years. And I have seen and heard innumerable accounts of people being kind to others.  Kindness is being useful to someone, helping them in some way. I have been on the receiving end of many kindnesses. And I don’t just mean by upright Christians. I have been helped by all colors and creeds, male and female.  Agnostics, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, and more, male and female, with all colors of skin have helped me with different things all my life.

Nice means to be pleasant, or agreeable.   Usually, these people that helped were very nice, very friendly. And I have seen many people being nice to other people.  There are many nice people in the world.

I bring this up because I have been looking at unbelievers a lot in these articles lately. Scripture talks about unbelievers as being the children of disobedience under the influence of the god of this world. Scripture talks about the serious sins that unbelievers get caught up in. There are warnings in Scripture against being unequally yoked with unbelievers and how evil friendships corrupt good morals. There are warnings in Scripture to avoid even believers who teach divisive doctrines. It is all true and it is not a pretty picture if that is all you look at.

But we must never forget that there are many nice, kind people in the world.  People have given me help in times of need; pushing my car, shoveling my walk, giving me rides, caring medical and professional help. People have shared friendly greetings, smiles, and words of encouragement. People have shared their cars and houses with me. People have shared garden vegetables, loaned tools, hospitality, gave a helping hand, helped me move, given presents during holidays, given me money, and more.

It is true that the Bible says that no one is righteous without Jesus Christ. The Bible says that believers who walk in the spirit are righteous. But they are only righteous by the grace of God and by what Jesus accomplished for us. Believers are just like all the unbelievers in that without Jesus we could never be good enough to stand in the presence of God which is what both the current situations and the end game is all about. We want to be with Jesus in the presence of God for eternity. We believe the Scriptures that tell us that Jesus accomplished that for us, that while we were yet sinners, he paid the price that we could be made righteous.

That is something I know that I, and many others, need to remember when we talk about “unbelievers”. So, of the many people who have helped me over the years in many ways, I am talking about people who were Jews, Muslims, agnostics, Buddhists, and other faiths. I’m talking about people who practiced all kinds of unscriptural behaviors; free love, living together unmarried, and homosexuality. I’m talking about people that may have used illegal drugs and/or drank too much on a regular basis, lied and other things.  Those are just examples. The kindnesses of these people are of the kinds listed above. Thank you all, kind people.

Scripture teaches to be thankful in all things and that includes the things I am writing about here.

In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.  (1Th 5:18 WEB)

Being thankful for everything includes being thankful for people.

Jesus ate and drank with sinners.  The implication is that he ate their food and drank their wine, accepting their hospitality and spending time with them.

As he passed by, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he arose and followed him. He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners sat down with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many, and they followed him. The scribes and the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why is it that he eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  (Mar 2:14-17 WEB)

There is a sermon in there about how we are ambassadors for Christ and are called to do the same. Notice that when he was with them the topics included things of the kingdom of God and Jesus held forth the truth.  Jesus’ point is that his mission, our mission, is to call people to repent of unrighteousness and join the kingdom.

Part of this article also is that being nice and/or being kind isn’t enough to gain entrance to eternal life with Jesus.  These sinners were kind enough to invite Jesus to dinner. Jesus still called them to repentance. No one can be good enough on their own.

that if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  (Rom 10:9-10 WEB)

There is salvation in none other, for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, by which we must be saved!”  (Act 4:12 WEB)

Jesus is the only way to be made whole and have eternal life.  Being nice and kind unfortunately isn’t good enough.

An emphasis of this message in standing against our adversary is that we don’t wrestle with flesh and blood. The whole time that we are looking at this formidable domain of Satan a key point is that harming all people is the goal of Satan. Yes, Satan is aiming to harm us but unbelievers are also harmed: robbed, killed, and destroyed.   It may feel like it is people that we are fighting against but the real enemy is the devil.

The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.  (Joh 10:10 WEB)

Scripture says that the devil has blinded unbelievers into following his snares.

in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the Good News of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn on them.  (2Co 4:4 WEB)

Unbelievers sincerely don’t see what we believe.  Likewise, even for believers who believe divisive doctrines.  Especially today, none of us has an exceptionally sharp picture.

So, all are to be loved, believers and unbelievers.  They all can be kind. Not that they always are, of course.  And even those who oppose you directly are people we are called to love.  Believers are called to even love their enemies!

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? If you only greet your friends, what more do you do than others? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.  (Mat 5:43-48 WEB)

It may look confusing.  Avoid sinful companions.  Love your enemies.  Avoid teachers of divisive doctrines. Jesus ate with sinners like the tax collectors of his day, who were some pretty mean people at times according to the scriptures.

And we all know that looks can be deceiving.  People can appear nice and kind, but really don’t have our best interests at heart.

Jesus taught us:

“Behold, I send you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.  (Mat 10:16 WEB)

And Paul wrote:

Therefore watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise;  (Eph 5:15 WEB)

We need the spirit of God because navigating these challenging situations is a walk of the spirit.  God set up these guidelines to protect us in our walk and to help us not be dissuaded of our reward.  So be wise as serpents but harmless as doves. Walk wisely. Follow the spirit of God in you. But remember people are lovable, even if the love sometimes is tougher than we would like.

All people are to be loved.  I, for one, am very thankful for the many kindnesses I have received from many people, not just believers, over the years.

We wrestle against the devil and his domain.  We love people and are thankful for all their kindnesses.

Walk in love wisely.

T 1.3.2, The Apostles Prophesied That Misinterpreted Things Would Be Taught, While They Were There, After They Passed, And In Later Times

While in some ways this is a sad lesson, it is a vitally important one. We have seen in Tradition in Original Christianity, Part 3, Prophets and Prophecy Were Vitally Important how fundamental prophecy was to the newly established church. Part of the Apostles Tradition is that while they were there, after they passed, and in later times, that the gospel would be attacked, and they prophesied this. This attack is both from without, and within. The church is to be mindful and look out for doctrines and tradition that are contrary to the Apostles’ doctrine and traditions.

But before we get into the verses, this point must be made. The material we will look at talks about grievous wolves destroying the flock, people from without and within the church teaching perverted, misinterpreted things, and the source of these things being seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. These are very serious charges, and something that has happened and will happen until the Lord comes.

But that is not an indictment of everyone in all the churches that teach erroneous doctrine by any stretch of the imagination. When Jesus was talking about the bad impact of the tradition of the elders, he wasn’t talking necessarily talking about the Jews in the seats. He was talking about the Pharisees and leaders that promoted the traditions over the actual word of God. In fact, there are many, many good Christian souls who love God and love people in many churches. For a large part, these saints are just following the tradition they have been taught. Or they may have been brought to Christ but when it comes to the meat of the word of God, they don’t really know what to believe. So many may know Jesus and they may be certain about some things, but beyond that, they don’t what to believe. Look at Theology Is As Clear As Mud To Americans in 2020 which shows the less than stellar theological prowess of a lot of American Christians.  I have talked with people who taught Sunday School or classes from books given them who themselves were just as like to be tossed to and fro by the winds of doctrine as the people they taught, certain on some things and not certain on others. A lot of people give their time and resources to help the church because they do have a loving heart. And last, but not least, I have talked to pastors who have admitted to me that they pretty much only know what they have been taught, that with the demands of their congregation they don’t have time to investigate a lot of the things that people like me bring up, and may have very little time for study and research beyond what their denomination or association promotes. There is grace, mercy, and peace in the way of the Lord, and this area is no exception.

Nevertheless, what I show here is from what the word of God calls the apostles’ tradition. Here are the first issues and verses in this area:

Twisting scripture was happening while the Apostles were alive:

I marvel that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different “good news”; and there isn’t another “good news.” Only there are some who trouble you, and want to pervert the Good News of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you any “good news” other than that which we preached to you, let him be cursed. As we have said before, so I now say again: if any man preaches to you any “good news” other than that which you received, let him be cursed. (Gal 1:6-9 WEB)

These verses are talking about some serious stuff. “Let him be cursed” is what is called a divine passive. That simply means that God is causing what’s going on. And in this case, what is going on, is someone being cursed by God! So, what was going on?

In Paul’s time, the Galatians were being proselytized by “Judaizers”. He cites this as an example of perverting the gospel which means changed from its true meaning. Paul explains all this later in Galatians starting with emphasizing the truth that we are justified by works in chapter 2. He emphasizes that the righteous live by faith in chapter 3. In chapter 5 Paul exhorts the Galatians to walk free of the law, and reject the premise that Christians need to be circumcised. Rather, he says to walk in the Spirit. And he wraps up the argument in chapter 6. This is an example of what the Apostles taught being twisted and then the twisted gospel being taught while the apostles were alive.

The book of second Peter puts the writings of the apostle Paul on the level of Scripture.

Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote to you; as also in all of his letters, speaking in them of these things. In those, there are some things that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unsettled twist, as they also do to the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware, lest being carried away with the error of the wicked, you fall from your own steadfastness. (2Pe 3:15-17 WEB)

The above verse says what Paul wrote was wisdom given to him. This is an attestation that what Paul was teaching he received by revelation which he also says in different places in his writings. This verse says that some were twisting Paul’s words to their own destruction. Here is another place where Paul declares that what he is writing is revelation.

But I make known to you, brothers, concerning the Good News which was preached by me, that it is not according to man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal 1:11-12 WEB)

Now, this is the same as “Thus says the Lord”. It is the declaration of a prophet who is also an apostle and teacher. This is different than just an eyewitness account of what someone says. Paul is saying that what he taught by word and by letter is the word of God.

Here is another verse that says that people were rationalized away from the faith in Apostolic times:

Timothy, guard that which is committed to you, turning away from the empty chatter and oppositions of what is falsely called knowledge; which some profess, and thus have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you. Amen. (1Ti 6:20-21 WEB)

2 Peter 3:15-17 above also says that some of the things that Paul wrote are difficult to understand, and sometimes some people, including believers, twist the things that Paul wrote. To twist words means to say words that mean something different than what the author meant when he wrote them. It does not say that these twisted words just come from outside the churches, in fact, we see that some of the word twisters come from within the churches. We are to be wary and steadfast because if we are not, we can be called away by the twisted words of the wicked. Wicked in our day and time usually means bad witches in horror stories or murderers but wicked in scripture just means criminal or lawless, someone who goes against God’s setup and His way of doing things. When we act out rebelliously, we are being wicked. It doesn’t mean there is necessarily sorcery or evil spells, it means we are choosing to do things that God says are not holy and we know better. Doing something that God says is not holy is a sin. Making it part of your life is being sinful. A life that allows for all kinds of sins is a wicked or evil life. Sins aren’t just things like getting drunk, promiscuous sex, lying, stealing, and murder although all of those are sins. Sin in its definition means to miss the mark. It means to do differently than what God wanted. Doing what you want to do instead of asking God for guidance is missing the mark or sin. Choosing the ways of the world instead of the ways God wants us to live as he wrote through the prophets and the apostles is sin. Can you see that following Christian tradition that opposes the apostles’ traditions is also evil? It’s missing the mark. There’s a holy life which is God’s way. And there’s an evil or wicked way which is sinful, a life constantly missing the mark.

This may be hard for some people to see because the people we’re may be talking about are pastors and leaders in churches.  It’s easy to see sinners as just brawlers, drunkards, murderers, and thieves.  But we are looking at verses here that are talking about Bible teachers being called wicked because they are teaching that Christians must follow the law or other things contrary to the apostles’ traditions.  It doesn’t say they murdered anyone or stole from anyone, but they are wicked nonetheless.  The worldly definition of wicked or evil has the implication of being extremely morally reprehensible.  Theologians define the words with the implication that the person is consciously being sinful.  Scripture just calls all sin evil, even unintentional ones, and all following the Lord rightly as righteous.

And, to be honest, this could be any one of us at different times in our lives. I was at one time a good Catholic boy promoting the supremacy of the Pope, seven sacraments, praying to the Virgin Mother for intercession, and promulgating that the gifts of the spirit having ceased with the apostles, but I came to see that I was promoting a gospel different than the apostles’ traditions with those beliefs.  At different times after that, I embraced different doctrines including ecumenism, the in essentials unity doctrine, the requirement of tithing, that also I have come to see were not in the apostles’ traditions.   I was well-intentioned, but I was evil or sinful nonetheless because I was promoting things different than the traditions of the apostles.

I was only doing as I was being taught, but I was still wrong. Facing the reality that we have to recognize sin in our lives, wherever it is, is a clear message from Scripture.

This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and don’t tell the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we haven’t sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1Jn 1:5-10 WEB)

The greatness of Jesus Christ is that he is our advocate because we live in these earthen vessels that are still part of the realm of the evil one so when we sin, we can confess our sin, then we are forgiven and cleansed of all sin. But if we say we don’t have sin then we are being evil.

Yes, grace abounds towards us in that because of what Christ accomplished we can sin and be forgiven. But at the same time there is a clear message in Scripture that when we see sin in our lives that we stop.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? May it never be! We who died to sin, how could we live in it any longer? (Rom 6:1-2 WEB)

While we are talking about us being sinful at times the truth is still that there is no condemnation to us in Christ Jesus when we are walking in the spirit as it says in Romans chapter 8.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  (Rom 8:1 WEB)

Back to 2 Peter, what does it mean to twist the scriptures? It can be subtle things. It means to tell people that scripture means something different than what it says and really means. Here’s an example:

An example is “John indeed baptized with water, But Jesus will baptize with the Holy Ghost” which is a simple enough sentence. See T 1.8 Tradition in Original Christianity, Part 8, The Spirit Baptism Mandate, John Baptized With Water, But You Will Be Baptized with the Holy Spirit for more.  What is being contrasted there is baptism with water and baptism with Holy Spirit. That sentence contrasts water and spirit as the medium of baptism. Those are the words in the sentence. But I have heard men preach that the word baptize itself automatically infers water so when it says Jesus will baptize with Holy Spirit, there is still water in that baptism so it is really water and spirit. That is also twisting Scripture. Baptize means wash and while you may most commonly wash with water, you can wash with dry cleaning fluid, solvents, sand, alcohol, and other things because there are things that should never be exposed to water like leather, furniture, wood products, electrical components and more. Jesus washes with Spirit. If you want to translate baptize even as dip, things are dipped in things other than water. Things are dipped in a fire in metallurgy to purify them which is the figure of speech used in baptize with fire. The verse says John washed or baptized with water, Jesus will wash or baptize with spirit. Or John dipped in water but Jesus will dip in spirit. If the word baptize assumes water then “baptize in water” is an oxymoron, but it’s not because the Greek word baptizo which is transliterated baptize just means to wash and it is translated wash in a few verses in Mark. Here’s one:

They don’t eat when they come from the marketplace unless they bathe themselves, and there are many other things, which they have received to hold to: washings of cups, pitchers, bronze vessels, and couches.) (Mar 7:4 WEB)

There is no water in the following verse. The baptism of Jesus pours the spirit into each one of us and unites us into one body.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all given to drink into one Spirit. (1Co 12:13 WEB)

How about the twisting of this verse?

Yet I wish that all men were like me. However each man has his own gift from God, one of this kind, and another of that kind. (1Co 7:7 WEB)

This verse refers to it being a gift to be single. When I was a young man in the Catholic Church, I was interested in serving in the priesthood. Part of that verse, “I wish that all men were like me” was presented to me by a priest as a young teenager as the basis for me and others to remain celibate my whole life in order to serve God. Somehow, this priest said, it was God’s will for all priests to follow Paul’s example and be celibate. That is twisting scripture because next it says, however, each man has his own gift, meaning some people have the gift to be celibate and others don’t. Elsewhere it says it is better to marry than to burn. You either have the gift of celibacy or you don’t and I didn’t. That was twisting scripture. That Catholic priest twisted scripture to try to get me to believe otherwise.  To the sadness of some Catholics, I recognized that I liked girls too much to be able to commit to a life of celibacy.

This next Scripture is also talking about something going on in the time of the apostles.  It says causes of the divisions among the churches include arguments, disputes, and word battles by people puffed up by their own knowledge.  It also points to the false doctrine that material gain is tied to godliness.

If anyone teaches a different doctrine, and doesn’t consent to sound words, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is conceited, knowing nothing, but obsessed with arguments, disputes, and word battles, from which come envy, strife, insulting, evil suspicions, constant friction of people of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. Withdraw yourself from such. (1Ti 6:3-5 WEB)

This warning applies as much today as it did back then.

We’ve been talking about Scripture being twisted in the time of the apostles. Here’s prophecy on how the apostles’ doctrine will get twisted by some in the future.

For the time will come when they will not listen to the sound doctrine, but, having itching ears, will heap up for themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn away to fables. (2Ti 4:3-4 WEB)

And this next prophecy is about what will happen right after the time of the apostles.

For I know that after my departure, vicious wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Men will arise from among your own selves, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore watch, remembering that for a period of three years I didn’t cease to admonish everyone night and day with tears. (Act 20:29-31 WEB)

The warning here is to watch. The Scripture says there that it will be vicious wolves who enter, indicating probably an attack from the outside. The use of the word wolves is a figure of speech symbolizing the destruction of the faith these people do. But it also says, “Men will arise from your own selves, speaking perverse things…” Arise from your own selves means it’s not secular and it’s not from without. It’s from within the church! I am not the one saying this. These are Paul’s words! Paul is saying that there are people in the church that will teach twisted things.   

If you have a problem with them you have a problem with Paul who wrote most of the New Testament and was given the administration of the grace of God which is the church we belong to. Paul said some of these word twisters will come from church ranks.

Again, perverse in this verse doesn’t mean sexually obscene, it means distorted or misinterpreted. That means that it is people from the church who are teaching misinterpreted doctrine. It really can’t be any plainer, people will arise from the church speaking distorted things. Those people are from the church and they are teaching wrong things. The church is not infallible. Part of the stewardship of the church is guarding against this twisting of doctrine.

Another Example of Twisting Scripture

For example, there are no commands in scripture to abstain from alcoholic drinks totally. There is a vow that individuals abstain from alcoholic drinks but that is an individual choice not a commandment of the Lord. (I discuss this much further in Drinking Alcohol.) Yet I have heard more than one preacher take the verse “wine is a mocker” and use it to define all drinking as taboo. I have heard the statement that “no godly person puts alcohol to their lips”. This is making abstinence from alcohol equal to godliness. In this scheme the way to gain godliness is to abstain from alcohol which is not a requirement in scripture. That is twisting scripture.

There is an expression “cleanliness is next to godliness.” This is an expression that equates a form of living, in this case, cleanliness, as a means of gain. Cleanliness is not Christianity. Abstaining from alcohol, or never marrying, is not Christianity. That does not mean that it’s wrong to be clean, or that people with alcohol problems shouldn’t join AA, or that people who have chosen to be single are wrong, they are just not requirements for Christianity. In fact, as far as those elements go, Christian doctrine says marriage is between a man and a woman, only the marriage bed is undefiled, not to be drunk but filled with the spirit, and that all things should be done decently and in order.

So, we have in the writings left us by the apostles prophecies that during the Apostles ministries on earth, right after the apostles passing, and in future times there would be people both from within and without the church that would teach things different than the apostles. The charge to follow the Apostles tradition is the standard set in original Christianity.

One of the goals of this website is to both look at what happened in the time of original Christianity, and then to follow events in times after that that show what happened to help contribute to the huge number of divisions in the church. We have already looked at one in T 19.1 Modern Christian Traditions – The In Essentials Unity Doctrine. In that article we look at how in original Christianity the emphasis was that the whole counsel of God was important whereas in modern times “the in essentials unity Doctrine” waters down the whole counsel of God to a list of “essentials” that everyone can agree on.

We will be looking at more in the future.

T 1.62 How the Devil Tempts Us to Sin, Resisting the Devil

Before we get into more about devil spirits, we are going to look at how scriptures speak about resisting the devil and overcoming temptation.  And we are going to be talking about sin which is far less exciting than manifesting the power of God, and in fact, a subject that some avoid.  However, as Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and one of the devil’s objectives is to get people to sin, it is important that we learn about it.

The humble truth is that we are born with sin in us. And that sin will not fully go away until the final redemption of our sinful bodies after Christ’s return.

Not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body.  (Rom 8:23 WEB)

The above verse talks about how even after we are born again, we are still waiting for our bodies to be redeemed. The next verses talk about what we’re waiting for our body to be redeemed from:

For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing. For desire is present with me, but I don’t find it doing that which is good. For the good which I desire, I don’t do; but the evil which I don’t desire, that I practice. But if what I don’t desire, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the law, that, to me, while I desire to do good, evil is present. For I delight in God’s law after the inward man, but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. (Rom 7:18-23 WEB)

Paul calls it the law of sin in our members (parts of our body).  We were born with sin in us. When you receive Christ, we have the power to overcome sin, but as we say above it isn’t just vanquished.  As the verses above describe there is a constant battle within us between the sin that is in our bodies and the truth of God’s word which is in our minds and hearts. Thank God that will finally be gone after the final redemption, but in the meantime, we have to deal with it and its consequences.

Where do wars and fightings among you come from? Don’t they come from your pleasures that war in your members? You lust, and don’t have. You murder and covet, and can’t obtain. You fight and make war. You don’t have, because you don’t ask. You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  (Jas 4:1-6 WEB)

These words in James tell us that there are pleasures, things that we desire, within us. We want things. And because we want things we go after them, that is how we are made. And it’s not that everything we desire is evil. People need clothes, food, transportation, and shelter among other things. It’s normal to want those things, and that’s not what James is saying here in “you lust, and don’t have.” These words refer to desires we have that are excessive. We need clothes, but we don’t need the most expensive clothes, unless, perhaps, we’re in a job that demands it, but for most of us, that is not true. Likewise, with food, we need good food, and it should be healthy food, but it doesn’t have to be the most expensive, exquisite gourmet dining. Or with housing, we need shelter, a roof over our heads, with room for everybody in it to live adequately, but it doesn’t need to be a mansion or even anything near a mansion. Having to have lots of money, the nicest things, the nicest houses, the nicest clothes, and/or the best foods all the time becomes excessive, and that is what defines lust. That is over-desire. That is sin working in us.  The verses above in James also talk about these over-desires causing all kinds of sin including adultery and even wars.

James ties these lusts to being friends with the world which makes you an enemy of God! You can’t serve God and Mammon. You either serve God or you serve the world. And tied into all of this is pride. When we fulfill these lusts, we are demonstrating unhealthy pride. And James warns us that’s a bad thing. God resists the proud. The proud aren’t likely to get their prayers answered.  But the humble will. People who are humble put away their pride and look to God for how to live in every situation.

So how does the devil play in this temptation if it really just comes from the sin in our bodies? The devil runs the world.  And when the devil runs the world, he exploits every avenue he can to push more people into being prideful and indulging their lusts. The devil is the force behind the influencers of the world influencing people to do worldly (evil) things.

Scripture says that people without the Spirit of God become workers for the devil’s schemes.  That’s what it says at the beginning of Ephesians chapter 2:

… you were dead in transgressions and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience; among whom we also all once lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.  (Eph 2:1-3 WEB)

Sin is simply practicing anything that is not godly. There are actually scriptures with lists of sinner types and some of them may surprise you:

But know this, that in the last days, grievous times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, not lovers of good, traitors, headstrong, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding a form of godliness, but having denied its power. Turn away from these, also.  (2Ti 3:1-5 WEB)

So many sinners listed here and remember that Christians sin but they live a life resisting sin instead of being a slave to it.  These verses talk about people who live their lives practicing sin and being okay with it or even reveling in it. It’s not that every sinner is doing all of these evil lifestyles, maybe just one or two of them, but they are caught up in it nonetheless.  All of these sinners are the children of disobedience talked about in Eph 2:1-3 above. Scripture says to avoid people who live this way. That doesn’t mean you will never have contact with them, but they are not the people you want to be friends with more than you need to be.

Do not be deceived; evil companionships corrupt good habits. (1Co 15:33 MKJV)

This verse is making a major point.  To not be friends with the world means to not be friends with people that promote the world, the children of disobedience because those friendships will work against your relationship with Yahweh, our Father.  That doesn’t mean that you hate them because we know that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers of this world. And the mark of the Christian is to love God and all people.  Living in this world means that you are going to regularly engage with people that are children of disobedience. Unless you live in a family that is full of believers, live in a community where everyone goes to the same church, and work with a group that is all believers, and only shop at stores run by believers, and only go to schools of believers, and I’ve never heard of anyone that absolutely has found that scenario, then you are going to engage with the world with unbelievers. On the other hand, the more that you can make the above impossible-sounding scenario a reality the better off you will be in terms of being influenced away from godly living. But the rest of us, are going to live, work, and send our kids to school in communities with lots of the children of disobedience around.  And so we are going to love those people with the love of God to the best of our ability whether it is where we live, where we work, where we go to school, and even on the playground. We are going to be good neighbors, good sports, help people where we can no matter whether they are Christian or not.  But loving God, and making him first means the relationship with God is more important than any friendship, and so when children of disobedience try to influence people to follow the ways of the world, the Christian response is to obey God rather than go along with whatever the world is promoting. No one is saying that’s easy. That is part of what makes the battle so challenging.

The opposite of sinful companionships corrupt good habits is “Iron sharpens iron”.

Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens his friend’s countenance.  (Pro 27:17 WEB)

The use of iron to sharpen iron is part of metalworking going back ages.  Even today you can buy a honing rod to sharpen your knife although todays’ metal of choice is steel.  Just like you use iron to sharpen iron one believer can sharpen another, the opposite of the dulling effect of having unbeliever friends as described in 1Cor 15:33 above.  So make believer friends.

Some of the sin types in the verse above are obvious, others not so much. Money-loving is kind of obvious but it’s more than just having a big bank account, it includes loving the ability to buy things and experiences.  Arrogance is an attitude of superiority. Here’s a key to recognizing arrogance, arrogant people have a hard time accepting that they may be wrong. A continual attitude of un-thankfulness is an ungodly way to live that is pretty common. Without natural affection is being hard-hearted with people like your family whom you should feel some natural affection. Even if you don’t get along with family members you should still love them.  Slander is spreading false information about someone.  Fierce means getting violently enraged.   Not lovers of good refers to people who don’t treasure what is holy, just, and of good report.  Traitors refers to betraying trust with another person, not keeping your end of the bargain, not keeping things in confidence that you have been told by someone else.  Headstrong refers to being overly stubborn and obstinate.

“Holding a form of godliness, but having denied its power” is about being religious.  It’s about going to a church that says believers don’t really have power like the manifestations of the spirit.  It’s about believing not only that God doesn’t answer prayer today, He stopped manifesting a long time ago.  And it’s not just struggling with unbelief like many of us might do, it’s denying the power of God. It’s also about being part of a tradition that makes the word of God void.

Here is another list:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known of God is revealed in them, for God revealed it to them… For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions. For their women changed the natural function into that which is against nature. Likewise, also the men, leaving the natural function of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another, men doing what is inappropriate with men, and receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error. Even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, malice; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil habits, secret slanderers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them.  (Rom 1: 18-19, 26-32 WEB)

The first line says that everything that happens afterward is the result of people not accepting God’s revelation of the truth.  The first result is that people turned to shameful lusts.  These lusts include lesbianism and homosexuality, but later we read that all sexual morality is included in this turning away from God.  The process of rejecting God’s ways builds a reprobate (worthless) mind and leads to all manner of sinning.  That is the lifestyle Satan wants from his followers and leads to not having eternal life with Jesus.

So, Satan’s plan is to turn people away from the order of living godly into the chaos of doing whatever selfish desire one wants to do. The first thing mentioned after all unrighteousness is sexual immorality so let’s talk about that. In the beginning of the book of Genesis, we read that a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife in marriage as the avenue for godly sexual intercourse. Sex between people other than that is immoral because it works to undermine God’s standard. So that includes “hooking up”, “shacking up”, “friends with benefits”, not to mention things like random sex, prostitution, orgies, or whatever else.

Romans chapter 1, verses 18 and 19 list how Satan wants people to live. Covetousness is wanting things you shouldn’t have. Malice is having evil intentions towards others. Envy is feeling hurt that other people have things that you want. Murder is ending the lives of people. Strife is angry conflict with people, working against them. Deceit is misrepresenting the truth to people.  Secret slandering and backbiting both involve talking about people badly behind their backs. God made parents to help raise children to have the greatest success certainly in the world, but also to have rewards in eternal life. Satan doesn’t want children to either obey now or even honor their parents later because he doesn’t want them to have an abundant life now or returns for eternity. A common theme in popular media for kids and even adults is how dumb, out-of-date, and even ridiculous, their parents are. Satan doesn’t want you to obey your parents, love your family, or show mercy, and he doesn’t want you to forgive.  All of these make up the course of this world, all of these are different tracks in the lifestyle of disobedience that Satan pushes every moment of every day.

These verses describe Satan’s end game, what he desires to achieve over the long haul. But he just doesn’t come out and say his end game.  In reality, he tries to blind everyone he can as to what his purposes are at all. And he knows he can’t turn a person from meek and compliant into a raging sinaholic at once so he is constantly working to push the envelope.

Remember, this is God’s standard and his way of looking at life.  It’s not that everything in an unbeliever’s life is evil.  Unbelievers may love their family, give to charity, work hard, and a bunch of other “good” things.  But no matter how many of those things an unbeliever has going on, he is not good enough to stand before God.

As it is written, “There is no one righteous; no, not one. (Rom 3:10 WEB)

None of us are by ourselves, only Christ can grant anyone the righteousness, justification, sanctification that we receive because of Christ’s gift to us and is what gains us eternal life. And then there is the problem of all these sinful lifestyles that unbelievers are led to.

The devil works to incrementally increase sin both in a person and in society. There were times ago when a large portion of people were accepting of marriage as the acceptable means of sexual engagement so Satan pushed the extramarital affair as the exciting alternative. And he pushed adultery in the form of having a mistress as the release from struggling marriages. Next, he might push the idea that marriage is just a piece of paper and not really necessary until it that idea became more accepted.  And then he might push the idea of free love where men and women should embrace having sex without obligations. And then he might push that free love should include sex in any form; homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality. And then he might push that people should be free to be whatever gender they desire. And that they should cross-dress and, basically live to fulfill whatever sexual fantasy they want.  Wherever people are in relationship to God’s standards Satan’s push is to get them to go a little further away step by step.

Or don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s Kingdom? Don’t be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortionists, will inherit God’s Kingdom. Such were some of you, but you were washed. But you were sanctified. But you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God.  (1Co 6:9-11 WEB)

This verse is contrasting the unrighteous, that children of disobedience, with believers. Again it’s not that believers don’t sin, but they strive against sin whereas the unrighteous accept that sin as their lifestyle. We may falter but we fight the good fight, we confess our sin and resist the devil and by grace the blood Jesus washes us from all sin.  He makes us holy, and worthy to be with him eternally.

 

Resist the Devil

Here is the work we are called to do.  This work is not what saves us but it is part of the walk of a believer. We are charged to resist the devil:

Be subject therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  (Jas 4:7 WEB)

God may never allow Satan to tempt us above which we are able, but he is allowed to tempt us. The above verse says we need to resist. Here are some scriptures on how to do that.

Watch and pray:

Watch and pray, that you don’t enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  (Mat 26:41 WEB)

In order to resist the devil, you really need to put on the whole armor of God:

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having the utility belt of truth buckled around your waist, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having fitted your feet with the preparation of the Good News of peace; above all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; (Eph 6:11-17 WEB)

These verses use the analogy of arming for war in ancient times to explain what all is required to resist the wiles of the devil.  You need the truths of God’s word which are your tools. Your movings around this world as an ambassador for Christ are your footwear in this armor. Righteousness protects your heart. Your faith shields you from all the false accusations the adversary throws at you.  And your sword is the word of God, speaking its truth pushes the devil away.

A great place to learn about resisting temptations is in the record of the temptations of Jesus in the desert after he had fasted 40 days in the desert.  There he was tempted three times.  Let’s look at the third temptation in Luke.

He led him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will put his angels in charge of you, to guard you;’ and, ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest perhaps you dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answering, said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” When the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him until another time. (Luk 4:9-13 WEB)

Jesus was first tempted with food. Then he was tempted with authority over all the kingdoms of the world.  This third temptation was to prove who he was. In each case, Jesus used the rightly divided word of God to resist the devil.  But in the temptation above notice that the devil quoted scripture to entice him to prove who he was!  But the devil deliberately misapplied the scripture.  Jesus answered with scripture that showed where the devil’s use of scripture was misapplied. It is true that it was prophesied that the angels would protect him but the word of God is that we are not to test God (Deut  6:16 refers to testing God at Massah): This example shows that it is not enough to know scripture, you have to rightly divide it to be able to wield it with power.

The temptations of Jesus are an illustration of putting on the whole armor of God.  The key of using rightly divided scripture as a sword capped off the resistance.  But Jesus had the whole armor working.  And not only that, but as the devil knew the scriptures, Jesus knew them to the point he knew that the way the devil was presenting them was wrong. That is another reason why all these disagreements over doctrine work against believers,  Being really knowledgeable in the whole counsel of God is part of being a mature believer.  It’s not enough to know there is something about that in the bible, it’s not enough to agree just on some basics, you have to know what Scripture says and what the real meaning is.

Another point is resisting the devil is who you decide to have relationships with.  The body of Christ is what is designed to nourish you.

from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love.  (Eph 4:16 WEB)

If you have accepted Christ, then you are a member of the body of Christ.  That body, as the above verse says, nourishes itself to its own building up.  In other words, if you want to be strengthened as a believer, then you need contact with other parts of the body.

Of course, that includes people that you worship with. But, it is much more than that. Even if you get together to worship with believers once or twice a week, that still leaves all the rest of the week where if you’re not careful, your contact is limited to being influenced by unbelievers. For the unmarried, that means having a believing spouse, and hopefully raising children they grow up to be believers. And in choosing friends, I mean real friends that you’re going to share deeper things with, that means choosing friends who have qualities that are going to strengthen your walk with Christ. Of course, perfect believer friends are impossible just as you being a perfect believer is impossible.  But having family and friends that are believers means that not just at worship times, but a larger portion of your time is in contact with believers. And that iron will sharpen your iron.

If you are a believer but your friends are not believers, then I have a question. Are having a hard time growing in your faith? Are you stuck in sinful patterns and don’t see why.  At some point, people that really want to grow with the Lord give up the things of the world including friendships that work against their faith.

Here’s a specific example of knowing what the word says precisely. In the world I have heard the saying that the bible says that money is the root of all evil. But it doesn’t say that. The following is instruction where the rightly divided word gives an answer to the temptation to go after riches or that it is money itself that is evil.

For we brought nothing into the world, and we certainly can’t carry anything out.
But having food and clothing, we will be content with that.
But those who are determined to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful lusts, such as drown men in ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.  (1Ti 6:7-10 WEB)

First of all, here is another example where believers, not just unbelievers, are led astray as it says “Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed.”

It says the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, not just having money.  We all need some money for the necessities of life.  We just warned against loving it.

The rightly divided answer to why not go after riches is that we didn’t bring anything into this world and we are going to leave everything that we have here. We’re fed and clothed, and that is enough.  Going after riches brings on all kinds of problems. In fact, it is the root of all kinds of evil.

Another example shows a strange place to watch out for temptation.  We are called to help those around us who get caught up in sin.  But Paul warns us that temptation can come in a place where you are just trying to help someone else and the temptation can come back to bite you.  Amazingly, instead of helping the other person, you may get tempted into their sin or some other sin!

Brothers, even if a man is caught in some fault, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself so that you also aren’t tempted. (Gal 6:1 WEB)

This verse is saying that when you try to be helpful to someone who is caught in  sin, you are exposing yourself to sin and its attractiveness so be wary. You might talk to the one who is caught in a sin, and in the process, you’re going to hear all of their good reasons for doing that sin.  Maybe they have been a good friend. It’s easy to be sympathetic, and open to hearing the other person. The attractiveness of that sin or even some other sin may come out and even start to lure you. The advice is simple. If you find that happening, then you’re not the one for this job. Take care of yourself and get out of there.

We are born with sinful bodies and even when we receive Christ into our lives we are not totally free of the sinful influence.  The devil is crafty and has engineered the world to attract us to sin whenever and wherever we are.  The devil has crafty schemes to try and lure us away from God.

But God has promised us that we will never be tempted more than our ability to resist so we need to be always watchful for a way out.  We need to keep our minds and hearts centered on God’s word. The devil is crafty but he is less powerful than Christ. We need to keep feeding our minds with God’s word as led by the spirit. Just as the devil is constant, we must be constantly vigilant to resist.

Thank God for forgiveness and the grace that abounds to us in Christ Jesus. Resist the devil and he will flee.

T 1.8 Tradition in Original Christianity, Part 8, The Spirit Baptism Mandate, John Baptized With Water, But You Will Be Baptized with the Holy Spirit

Of all the Christian traditions water baptism seems one of the longest enduring and most rooted.  In fact, it reaches so far back that reconciling it to some of what happened in the book of Acts with all of the outpouring of spirit appears hard to reconcile due to a number of confusing elements which we will look at in this article including the water baptisms done by Phillip and Apollos.

I was baptized as an infant at Holy Rosary Catholic Church. Later I watched as my younger brothers and sister were baptized, the last being when I was nine years old.  It was a beautiful ceremony and a big deal. Everyone was dressed up in their best. There was the solemn ceremony gathered around the baptismal font, and then afterward there was a party to celebrate the event. There were pictures and the aunts and uncles came and we had cake and ice cream.

Later in Catholic grade and high schools, the significance of this baptism in water was instructed.  It was a core belief and references to dying and being raised with Christ as well as the example of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist were reinforced to the point that I remember them decades later.  In later years still, in talking with adults after they were water baptized in Christian churches, I have felt the deep-felt emotion and conviction that they felt in going through this rite.

Baptism was ingrained in me as a rite, a sacrament, that involved ceremonial washing with water that represented the action of the Spirit washing the person, cleansing them of their sin.  As a sacrament, I believed at that time that the act of baptism imparted this grace. Not only that, but baptism was done similarly in all the non-Catholic churches that I knew of at the time. Yes, there were those who argued believer’s baptism over infant baptism, but baptism in water was a rite in every church I was aware of at that time and had been, I had been taught, since the apostles. It is one of the longest traditions in the church.

Baptism of the Spirit, as I remember, was mentioned in my Catholic training but only in reference to how this sacrament imparted the grace to being washed spiritually. The outpouring on the day of Pentecost was declared as the fulfillment of the prophecy that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit and it was only to the apostles and later once to the Gentiles. It wasn’t until after I left Catholicism that I started learning more about baptism including that it does have some confusing elements. But I did learn about how spirit baptism involved receiving the power of the holy spirit in a person’s life and not just to apostles and prophets. When I first starting hearing about people actually being baptized in the spirit in our day and time it was eye-opening, even shocking, and I have to admit, a little scary. The idea of this spirit baptism was powerful, and I wanted to know more. Nevertheless, Christian baptism has always had some confusing elements that are not clear in the text.

One thing that is confusing is the word baptize itself. The word baptize is what is called a transliteration, a word that has been converted from another language. Transliterations are made by converting the letters in the word into another alphabet, The Greek word baptizo became baptize in English. Why transliterate a word instead of just translating it?

Baptizo simply means to wash, immerse, or dip. One story why baptizo was transliterated rather than translated wash or dip is that the translators were afraid of offending King James who had been sprinkled instead of dipped. Another is that the translators felt translating baptismos as washing diminishes the significance of the event. However, that would be private interpretation. Did you know that there are places where forms of the word baptizo are translated wash in scripture? Yes, it’s not always translated baptize because it obviously just means wash from the context.

They don’t eat when they come from the marketplace unless they bathe themselves, and there are many other things, which they have received to hold to: washings of cups, pitchers, bronze vessels, and couches.) (Mar 7:4 WEB)

In the above verse the word bathe is baptizo, and the word washings is baptismos. Another example is the word washing a few verses later.

“For you set aside the commandment of God, and hold tightly to the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and you do many other such things.” (Mar 7:8 WEB)

The word washing above has the root word baptismos. How ridiculous it would be to translate it the baptism of pitchers and cups! It just means washing. You see that, right? Baptize means to wash. Yes, it has in its root the meaning of dipping or immersing, but it obviously means wash. Baptisms in water are ceremonial washings. Baptisms in the spirit are spiritual washings. Transliterating baptizo into baptize instead of just translating it as wash has caused a lot of confusion.

Believers being washed or cleansed is a concept the scriptures teach. Most people are familiar with the term, cleansed by the blood of the lamb. Jesus Christ’s blood cleanses from all sin.  That’s what it says in the epistle of 1 John.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. (1Jn 1:7 WEB)

This cleansing is good enough to allow us to enter the holy place.

Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, (Heb 10:19 WEB)

So, translating baptizo as wash makes perfect sense. When we accept Christ, we are washed from sin by the Spirit.  That’s what this verse in 1 Corinthians says.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all given to drink into one Spirit. (1Co 12:13 WEB)

This verse uses the analogy of washing in water and drinking water to describe the action and reception of the Spirit.  Analogies “directly illustrate similar relationships between two pairs of words, often for the purpose of logical argument”. [1]  Analogies can be different kinds.  In this case common experiences, washing with and drinking water are used to illustrate the reception and action of the spirit.  People are washed spiritually like they are washed with water.  People receive the spirit like they receive water when they drink water.  In this case, in fact, the word water is nowhere in the text but it is so common it is understood.  If you want to understand how spirit is received and how it washes then just look at how water is received and how water washes, that’s why the analogy is used.

Remember too that the things in the Old Covenant are forerunners of the things in the New Covenant.  The use of water in the Old Covenant is the forerunner to the use of Spirit in the New Covenant.  John washed people with water, but Jesus washes people with spirit.

This next verse talks about how the Law, the old covenant, was a shadow, a forerunner, of what Christ would bring.

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.  (Heb 10:1 KJV)

Things in the old covenant were forerunners to the new covenant.

So, 1 Cor 12:13 above is talking about the spirit baptism, the baptism of the church age, the spiritual washing that happens when new believers receive, drink in, holy spirit.  Yes, there is the implied analogy to water washing and drinking, but there is absolutely no water in that verse. It’s all spirit. Again, the use of terms washing and drinking that are often used with water are there to make it easier to understand. Like the word drink in the verse above, it means believers drink in the Spirit like we drink water, not that there is actually water involved. This verse is really all about the spirit baptism that John and Jesus prophesied about.

We are all washed in one Spirit into one body! That is what 1 Cor 12:13 says, that is what it means! Drinking in the spirit, washed spiritually by that same spirit as we drink it in, that’s the new birth, that’s being saved, that’s being restored, that’s being made alive again, resurrected from being a descendant of Adam and Eve who died spiritually on the day they sinned in the Garden of Eden, into a person who once again can communicate with the Father because of the powerful sacrifice of God’s only begotten son which made our redemption available! That is what this spirit washing, this spiritual regeneration is all about. That is baptized in spirit.

Or don’t you know that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:3-4 WEB)

in whom you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. You were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh. He made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, (Col 2:11-13 WEB)

Soak it in, it’s awesome!  Unlike the water baptism of the old covenant, the spirit baptism does the stuff the water baptism represented!

We are to follow the apostles’ traditions.  The apostles’ tradition includes both the beliefs and the practices of the Apostles.  The letters of the Apostles are the best place to see what they taught, the doctrine.  The Acts of the Apostles are the best place to see what was practiced.

So far, we have been looking at the doctrine in the epistles about baptism.  Next, we will look at water baptism with John and the Old Testament. Then we will look at the book of Acts to see what was practiced in regards to baptism.

Of course, John the Baptist did not invent baptism. Original Christianity, of course, started in Judaism where the Law prescribed numerous ablutions (ceremonial washings) that required washing and/or sprinkling in certain occasions. For example,

Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “You shall also make a basin of brass, and its base of brass, in which to wash. You shall put it between the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it. Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in it. When they go into the Tent of Meeting, they shall wash with water, that they not die; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to Yahweh. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they not die: and it shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his descendants throughout their generations.” (Exo 30:17-21 WEB)

The above is just one example of a ritual cleansing with water from the Law. Ritual washings were part of Judaism. While not in the Law, the Jews did have a ritual immersion, a baptism service if you will, for spiritual purity.1

The baptism of John was a water ritual, a calling to repentance and undergoing the water washing to symbolize the spiritual cleansing that would become reality with Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection.  John’s water baptism was the forerunner to Jesus’ spiritual baptism.

In those days, John the Baptizer came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, saying, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.” Now John himself wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. Then people from Jerusalem, all of Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him. They were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. (Mat 3:1-6 WEB)

John’s ministry was to lead the way for people to receive the Savior. He helped prepare their hearts to hear the Savior’s message. Part of his ministry included ceremonial water washing, being immersed in water, and coming up cleansed. He prophesied that his baptism was going to be replaced with the true spiritual washing that only Jesus Christ could provide.

John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

There are three people in the Gospels and Acts who prophesy or reference this particular truth above, here’s the first:

As the people were in expectation, and all men reasoned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he was the Christ, John answered them all, “I indeed baptize you with water, but he comes who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to loosen. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire, (Luk 3:15-16 WEB)

This is the setting where John first prophesied this great truth. There were people all about questioning him whether he was the Christ. He said he wasn’t, but then he told all of these regular people that Jesus would baptize them in the Holy Spirit. The prophecy of Holy Spirit Baptism was never just to the apostles, it was to everyone. Everyone at that point meant all Jews. And it is given as a replacement. Whereas John baptized with water, Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. In other words, water out, Spirit in. Holy Spirit baptism would replace water baptism. That’s what the prophecy says. That’s what it means.

Now, wait a minute! What about Matthew 28:19. Matthew 28:19 absolutely sets the stage for water baptism administered by disciples, doesn’t it?

Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Mat 28:18-20 WEB)

Numerous sources today lock onto this verse for not only the Trinitarian formula but also the fact that it mandates human baptizers seemingly baptizing in water.

Tradition calls this the Great Commission. And traditionally it forms the basis for water baptism as the rule from the time of Jesus. One author put it like this:

“This command has been handed down as a word of the risen one… This commission sets those who have been sent by the Lord unto a movement that pervades space and time.2

However, this verse is an anomaly in that it is never carried out in either Acts or the Epistles! No one in the scriptures is ever baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, only in the name of Jesus Christ! (See Original Christianity Did Everything in the Name of Jesus [Christ]) Furthermore, while there are no scripture texts that show Matthew 28:19 differently, there are early church father references to the verse without the “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit clause. And last, but not least, there are numerous mainline denominational sources that admit that Matthew 28:19, as written, was changed in the early centuries to promote the newly developed church doctrine of the trinity. See T1.4 Tradition in Original Christianity, Part 4, They did Everything in the Name of Jesus Christ. This is even acknowledged in some bibles. For example, the New American Bible, a Catholic bible has a note on Matthew 28:19 reads “the baptismal formula reflects the church’s gradual understanding of God as three Persons.” 3 In other words, it was changed to reflect doctrine developed in the early centuries AD.

Look at Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible. That translation of Matthew 28:19 has “(baptizing the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,)” in parenthesis because those words are suspect.

When you remove the “(baptizing the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,)” clause that Young’s literal translation of the bible declares as suspect you have Matthew 28:19 that reads:

And having come near, Jesus spake to them, saying, ‘Given to me is all authority in heaven and on earth; having gone, then, disciple all the nations, and lo, I am with you all the days — till the full end of the age.’

That leads to the conclusion that the original form of Matthew 28:19 has nothing to do with baptism at all. At the very least it makes Matt 28:19 suspect and not the bedrock of baptismal doctrine that tradition has claimed it to be.

But a true bedrock verse on baptism is “John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit” There is no controversy about it and it was carried out in scripture.

Now I have books in my library, bible dictionaries, systematic theologies, books dedicated to Baptism where they avoid that prophecy, dance around it, relegate it to the apostles on Pentecost, or relegate Spirit baptism to a second baptism that some people receive. However, there is some acknowledgment that how spirit baptism works is not fully understood. For example,

“The New Testament reports concerning the fundamental operation of the spirit vary considerably. According to acts 2:1-13 God imparted the Holy Spirit after the ascension of Jesus, while according to John 20 it was the Risen One who gave the Spirit. These reports cannot be harmonized by saying that the effective impartation of the spirit in John 20:22 was merely the promise of a future outpouring of the Spirit, or that it meant nothing more than a special charisma for the office of the apostles. These reports do bear witness that the Holy Spirit was in special measure imparted after Jesus’s death and resurrection and without water baptism.”4

Schlink in the above citation admits that modern baptismal theology has holes and further admits to baptisms of the spirit without water baptism in the book of Acts. Do you see that? The book of Acts recounts baptisms of the Spirit without water baptism. There was no water at Pentecost. The baptism there was the pouring out of Spirit and it was evidenced by the speaking in tongues and with the phenomenal tongues like fire sitting on them. There is no water in that. When Peter began speaking to Cornelius household the spirit poured out on them and they began speaking in tongues. Initially, he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ but then we read he remembered that what Jesus said about how John baptized with water but we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. They were baptized in the Spirit without water and it took Peter a while to realize it. There was no water involved when they began speaking in tongues. They were baptized in the spirit without water. Even conservative theologians admit that there are baptisms like the event of Pentecost and others where there was no water, just spirit, and that is one of the things that Schlink says above.

The prophecy that spirit baptism would be poured out wasn’t given just to the apostles. And it didn’t need to be accompanied by water baptism. When you just read the prophecy, it was prophesied for everyone. The prophecy simply says that John’s water baptism was replaced by Jesus’ Spirit baptism. It doesn’t say that spirit baptism would be added to water baptism. It says water is replaced by spirit in baptism.

That’s not what tradition tells us, though. So, we have to decide whether we are going to believe religious tradition or the prophecy. Remember what Jesus told the pharisees about their traditions.

The Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why don’t your disciples walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with unwashed hands?” He answered them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. But they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ “For you set aside the commandment of God, and hold tightly to the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and you do many other such things.” He said to them, “Full well do you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother;’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban, that is to say, given to God”;’ then you no longer allow him to do anything for his father or his mother, making void the word of God by your tradition, which you have handed down. You do many things like this.” (Mar 7:5-13 WEB)

Jesus said that these men were teaching the commandments of men as the commandments of God, and in the process, they made the word of God of no effect! The traditions of the Jews that Jesus is talking about were very old and very respected. Likewise, for us, if we decide to follow tradition, no matter how old or respected, rather than the word of God, we make the word of God void (of no effect).

As believers, we are charged to follow the traditions of the apostles.

So then, brothers, stand firm, and hold the traditions which you were taught by us, whether by word, or by letter. (2Th 2:15 WEB)

Following the spirit baptism mandate is part of the apostles’ tradition that we are to follow.

Jesus also prophesied the Spirit Baptism mandate.

Being assembled together with them, he commanded them, “Don’t depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which you heard from me. For John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Act 1:4-5 WEB)

This prophecy further defines that this will happen for the apostles “not many days from now”. Now, this verse does identify the outpouring on the day of Pentecost as being baptized in the Holy Spirit. But, as we shall see, the outpouring on the house of Cornelius shows that the outpouring was not unique to Pentecost or the apostles. On that day Peter just began speaking to these Gentiles and out flowed the Holy Spirit.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the word. They of the circumcision who believed were amazed, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was also poured out on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in other languages and magnifying God. (Act 10:44-46 WEB)

Here we have a number of things. One, that people other than the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Second, the way they knew they received the holy spirit is because they heard them speak in tongues. The third point follows in the next verses, but this is another wrench in the works, Peter then commanded them to be baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ.

Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just like us.” He commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay some days. (Act 10:46-48 WEB)

The above verse has also helped form the basis for water baptism as the standard for the church age. And, if it stood alone, it would be a legitimate point. If there wasn’t anything more on the incident, it might be enough to be conclusive. But there is more. In Acts 11 Peter recounted the record at Jerusalem because the circumcision faction was upset that Peter ate with these men. Peter recounted how he began speaking and the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles. This time in his recollection he doesn’t bring up commanding them to be baptized in water. Rather he says this:

I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.’ (Act 11:16 WEB) (words of Peter)

Now we have the third person referring to the Spirit Baptism mandate, Peter. And he is recalling it when he is recalling what happened with the Gentiles. And Peter recounts that these Gentiles were baptized in the Spirit. Even if they were baptized in water later, which I think the way it is presented nullifies that, they were baptized in the spirit and there was no water there, they just began speaking in tongues!

While we are here let’s take a good look at what Peter said in Acts 10:47. He asked if anyone can forbid water (the word baptize is not in that phrase in Greek). If water was assumed in baptism why would he ask that question? The answer is that water was discussed to clarify which agent was to be used in washing (baptism).

How do you clean without water you may ask? My dad had pans that we were warned were never to be washed with water.  He “washed” them with salt. One was a cast iron skillet and another was a steel egg pan. He poured a good amount of salt on them, spread it around, let them sit for a while and wiped the salt off.   In different times and parts of the world sand is and has been used to clean without water.  “From at least the sixteenth century, one of the cleaning agents found in nearly every household in England was sand”[2] In a lot of houses sand would be spread on the floor weekly and swept clean on Sunday. Ed Stafford takes a sand bath in the desert in a youtube video.[3] Hamsters in the wild bathe in sand.[4] Water has never been the only thing that you can clean with.

The question “Who would forbid water” also indicates some confusion and debate about water baptism versus spirit baptism at Peter’s level in original Christianity. In Acts 8 Peter was part of the team that was sent in after Phillip baptized some people and they hadn’t manifested Holy Spirit. Later in Acts 8 we are told Phillip is baptizing in water (another wrench in the works) which establishes how Phillip was baptizing. So, as a result of Phillip baptizing in water, the apostles had to be sent in. That’s an indication that there is a problem with water baptism after Pentecost.

We know the Samaritans manifested in Acts 8 after Peter and John laid hands on them because Simon saw that the holy spirit was given. The only way someone sees holy spirit is through a manifestation of the spirit. Acts 8 was a scenario where water baptism was part of the issue that the apostles Peter and John had to address to fulfill the Spirit baptism mandate. Acts 8 is full of issues that center around baptism, baptizing in water, receiving the holy spirit and so on.

The answer to who can forbid water is in Acts 11:16 where Peter answers his own question. He said he remembered that Jesus said that John washed (baptized) in water but we would be washed (baptized) in spirit. The reality of truly being washed spiritually (which he knew by seeing their receiving the holy spirit) supersedes the water washing that John practiced. John’s calling people to repent and undergo this washing rite was the forerunner to the true spiritual washing that Jesus made available. Peter understood now. He had just commanded them to be baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ. He remembered Jesus saying that John baptized in water, but we would be baptized in spirit. Peter understood that Cornelius’ household had been baptized in spirit.

Now, so far, we have seen that spirit baptism was to the apostles, and to Gentile house of Cornelius, and we are not done. We have just talked about Acts 8 where Peter and John were sent to minister to the Samaritans and there we saw that it was problematic that they were baptized, probably in water because that is what Phillip knew, and they had to rectify the situation. People were baptized by Phillip, there was no evidence of holy spirit, and it had to be corrected!

The Spirit baptism mandate prophecy wasn’t mentioned here, but it was carried out.

Next, let’s look at Acts 18 and 19.

Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by race, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus. He was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside, and explained to him the way of God more accurately. When he had determined to pass over into Achaia, the brothers encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him. When he had come, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he powerfully refuted the Jews, publicly showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. (Act 18:24-28 WEB)

Here a man, not an apostle that we know of, ministered in Ephesus, proficiently professing the scriptures. He spoke boldly about the Way (a term for people following Christ) and people believed. Then Apollos baptized them, but it was only John’s baptism. And how does the Spirit baptism mandate go; John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Apollos baptized them in water. Priscilla and Aquila were better instructed believers and when they saw what was going on, they instructed him more accurately, in other words, about Jesus’ baptism in spirit.

We read what happened next to those believers in Ephesus at the beginning of the next chapter.

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having passed through the upper country, came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They said to him, “No, we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” He said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe in the one who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke with other languages and prophesied. (Act 19:1-6 WEB)

Nothing happened to correct the situation with the believers in Ephesus who were water baptized until Paul came and saw what was going on. Now, Apollos had baptized these people with John’s baptism. Paul explained that John’s water baptism was one of repentance, and that they should believe in the one who would come after John, which is Jesus.

So, the text reads that Paul baptized them in the name of Jesus Christ. And it says when Paul had laid his hands on them the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

Now I have read more than one source that says that the above paragraph is two separate actions, they were water baptized first, and then they were spirit baptized second.

There is nothing in that record that requires that interpretation. It is common to have multiple descriptive sentences about one activity. For example, Jimmy went up to the plate to bat. When he took his swing, he connected and hit a home run. We understand that is not two batting activities. It is just one at bat.

I am saying that what Paul did was the one baptism that we read about in Ephesians chapter 4 where it says:

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all. (Eph 4:4-6 WEB)

There is only one baptism according to this verse. In Acts 19, part of Paul’s process of baptizing them, in this case, was to lay hands on them.  If you have a water baptism first, and then sometime later you have a spirit baptism you have two baptisms which contradicts this verse.  This is why the epistles are better than the book of Acts to determine doctrine.

The one baptism is when you are washed spiritually accepting the blood of Jesus in sacrifice for your sins, and making Jesus your Lord. That’s the baptism. Now as part of that baptism, like we saw with the apostles at Pentecost, like we saw with Cornelius, people who received that baptism manifested spirit like it says above, speaking in tongues, prophesying. If they didn’t see the spirit, then the apostles laid hands on the baptized which remedied the situation, and the newly baptized manifested spirit. By looking at these records we see that the norm was for the spirit to be made known to the world, called manifestations. For example, Simon in Acts chapter eight saw the spirit being manifested. Well, what did he see? Do you think that he saw ethereal spirits dancing around? The word of God says that the way the holy spirit is made known in our world is through nine manifestations. The word manifest itself means to make known. Light in a lightbulb is a manifestation of electricity. You can’t see the electricity but you know it’s there because it’s causing the lightbulb to produce light. Electricity is made known, exhibited, expressed, in the form of light in a lightbulb.  Manifesting spirit is what the apostles looked for when people were baptized.

Simon himself also believed. Being baptized, he continued with Philip. Seeing signs and great miracles occurring, he was amazed. (Act 8:13 WEB)

Simon saw Phillip doing miracles and signs. After Peter and John ministered to the others Simon saw manifestations again.

The way you know that there is holy spirit is by seeing speaking in tongues, interpretation, prophecy, miracles, things whereby you know that something supernatural is happening. You can’t actually see the Holy Spirit, but you can see someone speaking in tongues, prophesying, performing a miracle, and so forth. That’s what Simon saw. That’s what the apostles were looking for when someone received the Lord. That’s how they knew they drank in the spirit.

Now there are verses that talk about water in the New Testament but they are there to show how water was the forerunner to spirit baptism.

who before were disobedient, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, while the ship was being built. In it, few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. This is a symbol of baptism, which now saves you—not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (1Pe 3:20-21 WEB)

These verses say that Noah being saved by water is a symbol of baptism, not that Christian baptism is water baptism. Water baptism has always been a symbol of the true baptism that Jesus brings, true cleansing and restoration spiritually.

Now I would not have you ignorant, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; (1Co 10:1-2 WEB)

These verses are obviously symbolic because while it says they were baptized in the sea they were also baptized (immersed) in the cloud. This only points to the symbolic nature of these baptisms.

that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the assembly to himself gloriously, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without defect. (Eph 5:26-27 WEB)

The word washing above is not baptism. This verse is about how Christ cleanses the body of Christ with the word of God which is a spiritual cleansing and the example is how garments (in water) are washed until they have neither spots nor wrinkles. That’s an earthly example of how the body of Christ will be presented by Christ, and again shows how spiritual washing is explained using the analogy of washing in water.

All of the New Testament verses with water are symbolic and none are teaching that the baptism of the church age is water baptism. But it can just as easily be said that while these verses do not teach the baptism of the church age is water, they do illustrate that the water baptism done previously represented what was happening going to happen spiritually in the future.

John the Baptist, Jesus himself, and Peter all referenced the prophecy that John’s baptism with water would be replaced by Jesus’ baptism with the holy spirit.   I mean, people, is that what those verses say or not?  Yes, it is!

With changes soon after the passing of the apostles, the practice of baptism of the spirit appears to be mostly lost although it appeared to spring up periodically throughout the ages.  Water baptism tradition centered around the trinitarian formula is seen relatively soon after the passing of the apostles or at least that is what the documents that were allowed to survive show.  Those developments will be discussed in future discussions of post-apostolic traditions.

But, for now, as this is a website dedicated to the discovery of original Christianity and its traditions, it has been demonstrated that the standard of John baptizing with water being replaced by Jesus baptizing with spirit was a primary focus of original Christianity.  And, despite the strong water baptism tradition, as we are still charged to follow the apostles’ traditions, we are still charged to follow the spirit in promoting the baptism of the spirit to all.

In the future, we shall look at the prophecies that after the apostles passed there would be people from both without and within the church that teach traditions contrary to the Apostles doctrines and how is how some of the great truths of the apostles were lost.

1Origins of Baptism by Robert R. Cargill, https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/tools/video-gallery/o/origins-of-baptism

2The Doctrine of Baptism, Edmund Schlink, translated by Herbert J. A. Bouman, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis 1972, p. 9

3The New American Bible, Catholic Book Publishing, 1970, New York, footnote to Matthew 28:19

4The Doctrine of Baptism, P. 25

5Ibid, p.26

[1] https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-analogy#what-is-an-example-of-an-analogy

[2] Sand:   A Regency Cleaning Agent? https://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/sand-a-regency-cleaning-agent/

[3]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZQXfwCG_Mw

[4] https://hamsterguru.com/hamster-sand-bath/

T 1.61 Tradition in Original Christianity, The Word Spirit Can Mean Different Things Depending on the Context, Studying the Word Spirit

Since we are talking about devils as evil spirits and discerning of spirits now is a good time to take a deeper look at the word spirit in scripture.

Spirit is one of those things like electricity.  You can’t see it; you only know what it is by its effects. Oh, you can see lightning or the light of a light bulb, but those are just manifestations of electricity.  And spirit is more hidden than electricity which we can define and measure in the natural whereas spirit (as in holy spirit or evil spirit) is not measurable in the natural at all.  A google search of electricity revealed this definition, “a form of energy resulting from the existence of charged particles (such as electrons or protons), either statically as an accumulation of charge or dynamically as a current.” That is pretty precise and understandable to people that study those kinds of things. On the other hand, spirit cannot be ascertained in the natural world:

Now the natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can’t know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  (1Co 2:14 WEB)

The things of the spiritual world are not available to be reasoned out scientifically or philosophically, or any other way of the world.  The spiritual world is revealed by Yahweh to us spiritually.

But to us, God revealed them through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so, no one knows the things of God, except God’s Spirit. But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that were freely given to us by God.  (1Co 2:10-12 WEB)

What we truly know about the spiritual world is what has been revealed from God.  There are all kinds of people all the time reasoning how God works, but they are just guessing because it is beyond our capacity to truly understand as the verses above declare.  But people still do it, and bigger and bigger holes just keep being dug.  That is part of how we have gotten the massive amount of division that we have in the church.

In reality, the more we both study the scriptures and act on them to experience the truth the more we understand spirit because we understand our father God, and the Lord Jesus Christ as we relate to them. Be we have to get away from all the philosophizing about the things of God because we really are incapable of figuring out anything about who God is and how God works other than what is revealed.

Now, when it comes to spirits, as great as it would be if the word spirit always referred to Holy Spirit or evil spirits, we need to acknowledge that the word spirit has different meanings in different contexts.  Right off the bat here’s an example of spirit with some key distinctions.

That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (Joh 3:6b WEB)

The word spirit is in this verse twice with the word born between indicating there is a parent and child. A spirit is born of a spirit indicating two different spirits.  And as this is talking about Holy Spirit that means it is talking about two holy spirits!  We’re talking about Holy Spirit giving birth to holy spirit.  Yep, that’s right. That’s what is revealed here.

Basically, the principle is that the Greek word pneuma with the article “the” refers to the Holy Spirit, the Giver. Without the article, pneuma refers to spirit, the gift believers receive when they are born again.  This verse is saying that which is born of the Holy Spirit is a believer’s holy spirit.  Notice that the first word is Spirit (capitalized) and the second is spirit (lower case).  The Holy Spirit is capitalized.  Lower case spirit, our spirit, is lower case.  That is the convention in English although not in Koine Greek.

There is one Holy Spirit.  If there are a billion born again believers then there are a billion holy spirits.  That is what we are talking about.  Here’s a verse that talks about individual spirits in believers, in this case, prophets.

The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, (1Co 14:32 WEB)

Look at this verse:

May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (1Th 5:23 WEB)

This verse breaks down a believer in the three components, spirit (pneuma), soul (psuche), and body (soma).  Notice that the Greek word pneuma is not capitalized in that verse because it is talking about the believer’s holy spirit which is one part of three of the makeup of a believer.

Remember, part of the problem too is that there is no capitalization in the texts from which the books of the bible are translated.  So, the translators decided, based on their theology, when to capitalize Holy Spirit and when not to, holy spirit.  So, there is a problem going from translation to translation as to that translation’s rules for capitalizing or not capitalizing pneuma as spirit so it does get confusing at times.

There are more things to consider in the way spirit is used in scripture.

Next, look at this usage of the word pneuma. It does not have the article and it does refer to a person’s holy spirit, but only indirectly as it refers to the manifestations and uses of the spirit. So, it is a little awkward.  The translators add the word gifts in the KJV to show the word is added by the translators.

Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.  (1Co 14:12 KJV)

I chose to use the KJV version of that first to show that the word gifts is in italics, which, again, in the KJV shows that it is a word added by the translators. The literal translation is “for as much as you are zealous of spirit”. The ESV version translates that same phrase as “since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit.”  Neither is literal. The text says the word spirit but it is referring to the operation of the spirit.  It goes to show you that you need to have some flexibility in that the use of the word pneuma just doesn’t mean a spirit entity, plain and simple.

Of course, so far, we have been talking about holy spirit, the good kind of spirit.  But there are kinds of references to evil spirits, who are under the command of Satan. Devils or demons are angels who have turned against Yahweh and joined Satan’s cause.

Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; (Mat 25:41 WEB)

These bad angels are part of the kingdom of the devil which Jesus came to destroy.

He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. To this end the Son of God was revealed: that he might destroy the works of the devil.  (1Jn 3:8 WEB)

In a later article, we will see in scripture that a number of these evil spirits are named like lying spirits, spirits of antichrist, familiar spirits, and so forth.

But, as we shall see in this article, every time it says spirit in Scripture doesn’t mean a spiritual entity like a holy spirit or an evil spirit.  Here is a place with the Greek word pneuma where it doesn’t mean spirit as in holy spirit or evil spirit.  It refers to an element of character or an attitude:

What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?  (1Co 4:21 WEB)

Again, it is usages like this that can make it more difficult to understand spirits because every time it says spirit it doesn’t necessarily refer to a different entity.   This is talking about being gentle or a “gentle spirit” if you will.  For us believers, gentleness isn’t a separate spirit, but gentleness is a fruit of our (holy) spirit as it says in Galatians:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  (Gal 5:22-23 WEB)

To be gentle means to act tenderly, mildly, with a light touch.  1 Cor 4:21 above shows Paul making a choice whether to act gently, with a light touch, or harshly, with a rod.  So, to come in a spirit of gentleness is to come with a light touch, mildly, tenderly.

Similarly, let’s look at some verses in Proverbs.

Pride goes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor, than to divide the plunder with the proud.  (Pro 16:18-19 WEB)

The Hebrew word for spirit is ruach. It is the Hebrew equivalent for the Greek word pneuma.  The arrogant spirit here is not talking about someone being possessed with a spirit of arrogance.  It means being puffed up, all full of themselves.   You don’t have to be possessed to fall down this rabbit hole.  People that are not possessed get arrogant and wind up taking a fall all the time.

This arrogant attitude is contrasted with a humble attitude, a “lowly spirit” the text reads.  Again, humility refers to attitude.  Our holy spirit helps us to be humble.  When we have a lowly or humble spirit it refers to our character at that time.

Arrogant spirit, lowly spirit, gentle spirit are all examples of times when the word spirit is used but it doesn’t mean a unique spiritual being, it refers to character and attitude.

The word spirit is used when talking about angels as they are good spirits under God’s direction.

But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. This is a desert.” He arose and went; and behold, there was a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship. He was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit said to Philip, “Go near, and join yourself to this chariot.”  (Act 8:26-29 WEB)

This is one of the records of a wonderful angel delivering a message to someone.  It illustrates that angels are spirits.  Interestingly, if inspired by the Lord, you could discern with discerning of spirits the presence of an angel or angels.  Food for thought!

Here is an example of the phrase “the spirit of the law” used in the epistles.

who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.  (2Co 3:6 WEB)

In this usage, “spirit” refers to what the original author intended as opposed to the actual entity of a spirit.  The opposite is “letter of the law” which means to construe what was said to be as harsh as possible.

Here is another usage of spirit:

This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John.  (Act 18:25 WEB)

You understand that this isn’t saying he had a spirit of fervor, fervent in spirit here means he was just eager!  We all should be eager to walk in the spirit like this man, teaching accurately the things of God.

We would be remiss if we didn’t point these verses out:

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father. You worship that which you don’t know. … God is spirit  (Joh 4:21, 22a, 24a WEB)

Jesus is talking with a Samaritan woman who he points out doesn’t really know much about God.  He tells her that the Father is Spirit.  (Notice the translators didn’t capitalize this usage of spirit.) So, here pneuma refers to the Father.  God is Spirit.

There is more to this study, but by now you should have an idea of what to look for when seeing the word spirit in scripture.

Summing up, we see these usages of the word spirit in this article.  I have also included some additional examples where this usage applies:

  1. Holy Spirit (Matt 1:20; Luke 2:26; Acts 1:16)
  2. holy spirit (Luke 1:15; Acts 2:4 (first); Romans 5:5)
  3. Manifestations and/or gifts of the spirit (Rom 15:19; 1 Cor 14:2; 1 Thes 1:5,6)
  4. Evil spirits (Matt 8:16; Mark 1:23; Act 5:16)
  5. Character or attitude (Matt 5:3; Gal 6:1; 2Tim 1:7)
  6. Angels (Heb 1:7,14)
  7. As an adverb (1 Cor 5:3; Heb 4:12)
  8. God the Father

All of this shows that the word spirit is used in relating to spiritual matters in a number of ways.  And it is important to understand that every time the word spirit is used it might not mean a separate spiritual entity.  We’ve seen that in scriptures where prideful spirits, jealous spirits, gentle spirit, humble spirit, power spirit, sound mind spirit are referred to. Those terms refer more to the character of the person being exhibited at the time.  On the other hand, holy spirit, the powerful gift of the Holy Spirit, is a spiritual entity as are the many references to unclean spirits who are part of the domain of Satan to influence and even possess people in scripture and in life.

There are online sources for the different usages of the word spirit, but I didn’t find that they agreed all the time and it is important to watch out for the theology of the writer to determine how the usages are determined[1]  The only publication that I know of that explores a word study of spirit is an old book by E W Bullinger, Word Studies on the Holy Spirit.[2]  Bullinger’s book is the most thorough discussion that I have found.

This is a worthy topic for each scripture student to study and the examples that I have given above are a good place to start.

[1] Spirit, https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/spirit/  has an interesting discussion from Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Encyclopedia.com has a discussion of spirit in both the Old and New Testaments at https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/spirit-bible

[2] Word Studies on the Holy Spirit, E. W. Bullinger, 1985, originally published 1905, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids


Biblical references are from the ASV version unless otherwise noted.
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