Baptism as an ordinance for the church and of the church on earth is a command of our Lord Jesus. He specifically commanded it in His “going away message.” He established it just before going to His present position at the right hand of God on His throne in Heaven. He plainly said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt 28:19-20).
Some believe one’s own performance is key to salvation. Others contend that works will not save us; salvation is by faith alone. Some will maintain we can lose our salvation. Others advocate eternal security emphasizing that all we need to do is accept God’s provision and we will never be lost. One who is saved cannot become unsaved. If we are born again, we cannot become unborn.
Tom and I had never met before, but a rainstorm was holding us hostage in an old garage. All I knew was that Tom was only visiting in the community (same as I was) and that he had come from non-Mennonite background. He was now a member in one of the Mennonite churches. Thinking we may as well fill in the time with spiritual discussion I plunged in.
“Tom, why don’t you tell me how you became a Christian?” I asked.
“Well, I was raised in a Christian home, and we always were Christians,” was his response. I waited, but it became obvious he had nothing else to share.
Leaven is a substance that causes fermentation and spoilage, “Figuratively, an influence that, spreading silently and strongly, changes conditions and opinions” (World Book Dictionary). Literally, when leaven is added to a wholesome substance like bread dough or fruit juices and left unchecked the end result is a sour, smelly product which generally is unfit for any valued purpose. It is a fitting type of what sin does to our individual lives and to our church life when left unchecked or untended.
Our discussion began when my seat mate commented that he had observed my wife across the aisle. In observing her modest attire, he had questions about our identity. This opened the door for me to feel free to ask him questions about his faith. He seemed happy to inform me that he was a devout Catholic.
From Jewish chants in the early church, to praise choruses in our day, the sound of singing in Christian assemblies has changed significantly. The changes have seldom gone smoothly. In some ways, Anabaptist groups have been less vulnerable to worship fads. They have historically kept a strong hold on their worship traditions. But the switch from German to English in the late 19th century broke that continuity and left the Anabaptists scrambling to borrow worship materials from the nearest Protestant sources.
What is the mind of Christ? Or how can we know what His mind was and is? "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?" (Rom 11:33,34).
The teachings of Calvinism have pervaded many Christian churches today. They use Scripture to establish their beliefs and at times may seem ever so convincing. Yet, we must look at the context and compare other Scriptures to come to Biblically sound conclusions.
What is God so jealous about? Moses had looked toward God quizzically. God had been so patient and gentle for the last 40 days as He had explained the law and the tabernacle. And then, God’s countenance had changed so much! He had become grieved and pained. Then angry words spilled out of God’s mouth and His wrath waxed hot (Ex 32:10, 11)! God was slow, very slow to anger. But now God was angry; very angry! “Let me consume the whole nation in my hot wrath and start over with you!”
What Does God look like? One of the few memories I’ve retained of my preschool days is standing in the kitchen and having a discussion with mom on this subject. “Is he older than Grandma?” (Grandma was fighting a cancer battle and had aged significantly.) “Did Grandma make God?” I don’t remember any of the other questions but they were probably along the line of “Is he bigger than Daddy” or “Is He stronger than Daddy”.