The Roman Catholic Church teaches that infants are forgiven of original sin when a priest pours water over the baby in the sacrament of baptism. There are two serious problems with this practice. First, there is no occurrence of infant baptism in the New Testament, and second, one must believe in Jesus in order to be forgiven. Clearly a baby cannot respond in faith to the Gospel and thus be forgiven. ~ Mike Gendron
God saves believers by imputing to them the merit of Christ’s perfect righteousness – not in any sense because of their own righteousness. God accepts believers in Christ. He declares them perfectly righteous because of Christ. Their sins have been imputed to Christ, who has paid the full penalty. John MacArthur
It seems every time I hear the word “gospel” mentioned these days it has a different meaning. It is often used today, in its broadest sense, to describe God’s truth or love and, in its weakest sense, to mean happiness or enjoyment. The Gospel, in its purest and most powerful interpretation, is God’s eternal plan to redeem a multitude of sinners unto Himself. This plan has four essential elements:
1) God – He is the holy Creator and sustainer of the world. He is worthy of all our worship and is unable to tolerate sin in any form. He will one day judge all sinners according to their works.
2) Man – We are all sinners by birth and practice. We naturally rebel against God and are unable to do anything to please Him. We have no ability to save ourselves from His coming judgment.
3) Christ – Jesus is the eternal son of God who, before the world began, sovereignly chose to come to earth as a man and die to be a ransom for many. By His death, He satisfied the wrath of God for those who would believe on Him.
4) Response – God commands all men everywhere to repent of their sin and trust in the death of Jesus Christ as payment for their trespasses. Turning from your sins and placing your faith in Christ alone is the only thing God will accept.
This is the Gospel (literally, the Good News) that the love and mercy of God are shown in His eternal plan to save a people for Himself, by Himself, and through Himself. When all we deserved was His swift judgment for disobeying His every command.
Point four begs the question: How can a person respond to God’s command when we are, by nature, the enemies of God and dead in our sins? The Holy Spirit is sent from the Father to convict fallen man of his condition and grant him the gifts of repentance and grace. All three members of the trinity work together to redeem mankind from his lost condition. What is your condition? What was your response? Your actions are sure to tell of your response.
The events of Acts 6:1-8 are often used to show the ministry of deacons in the church. I view this chapter as one of the great miracles of the early church. Up to this point the church has grown at a rapid pace while experiencing the arrest and beating of it’s leaders and the deaths two people who were seeking glory for themselves. During this time the Apostles were conducting all of the church’s ministry. Now we find discord in the body and the church has become crippled.
The Reason v1-2: Four things can be listed as the cause. 1) Unnumbered Multitude; “the disciples multiplied” the larger the congregation the more this becomes an issue. With growth comes growing pains. 2) Unfair Ministration; “widows were neglected” the Greeks were accusing the Hebrews of showing favoritism. This may or may not be true but it affected the fellowship. 3) Ungodly Murmuring; the Greeks may have been done wrong but this is not the way to handle it. Murmuring has plagued God’s people since the days of Moses and it still cripples churches today. 4) Unfit Ministers; “it is not reason…” the Apostles were not to be “serving tables” they were to lead and teach.
The Remedy 3-6: “seven men… to appoint over this business” weather these were actual ordained deacons or just seven helpers matters not to me. God’s wisdom for the church to have deacons is clear from other text. lets look at the trait these men were to posses. 1) Hard Working Men; they were not paid ministers. The work they did was on top of supporting their family. 2) Honest Men; “of honest report” means everyone would know them to be honest. The office did not make them honest. they already were. 3) Holy Men; “full of the Holy Ghost” they didn’t seek accountants, bankers or lawyers. They sought godly men who were led by the Spirit of God. These seven men will free the twelve up to pray, study and teach.
The Results 7-8: When God binds the wounds of a church it can begin to grow again. Four things testify to this in these two verses. 1) The Word Increased; there can be no spirituals growth without growing in the knowledge of the Bible. The more Bible we take in, the better we are equipped to handle this life. 2)The Worship Increased; “disciples multiplied” the Lord has once again begun adding to this church. When we are at peace with our fellow believer we are able to reach others. 3) Their Influence Widened; “priest” the priest around Jerusalem became believers in Jesus Christ. They knew all to well the difficulties of serving a large congregation. 4) Their Wonder Increased; “Stephen… did great wonders” this is the first time we see God doing this through someone other than one of the twelve. A healthy church has room for others to and glorify God with their gifts.
Let us pray to God that he would work this miracle among the many churches of our day. Pray that God would use you in the remedy and keep you from becoming one of the reasons. ~ Bro Harold