Luis Josephus Ministries

Preaching and Teaching the Truth of God's Word.


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Why did John the Baptist baptize with water?

In today’s Bible study, I want to teach on the true significance of water baptism in light of Hebraic thought and history, as well as the practice of the early Christian Church.

The Ministry of John the Baptizer

John was called “John the Baptist” – not because he was a member of the Baptist church, nor was he ordained in the Baptist denomination (thank God Christianity wasn’t divided into  denominations in those days), but because he practiced water baptism as an outward demonstration of a person’s repentance from sin and committing their lives to God.

John the Baptizer preaches by the River Jordan

John was a direct male descendant of Aaron, brother of Moses. He was a Kohen (or Cohen) the distinct priestly line of Kohenim that were only permitted to minister in the Old Testament Temple. Although John was raised in traditional Judaism and his father Zachariah (also a Kohan) served as a priest in the Jerusalem temple, John chose not to follow his priestly heritage. It was God’s will that John not be contaminated by the corrupt religious system of his day. He was a Nazarite from birth and was filled with the Holy Spirit while still in the womb (Luke 1:15). Instead, he obeyed God’s call to be a prophet to the nation of Israel (The prophet Jeremiah was also a Kohenim and expected to serve as a priest after his father, but later became a prophet in obedience to God’s calling). But, John was not just a prophet; he was distinguished with the great honor of being the forerunner of Jesus Christ the Messiah.

John’s greatness cannot be denied. Every one of the four Gospels begins their account of the ministry of our Lord by recording some of John’s words of introduction. Jesus Himself spoke very highly of John in this manner:

“I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is”  – Matthew 11:11.

Water Baptism in the Early Church

The early church was first comprised of all Jewish believers in Jesus (Yeshua in Aramaic-Hebrew). The first apostles and their growing number of disciples were but one of many Jewish sects at that time (such as the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, etc.) In fact, the first disciples of Jesus did not call themselves “Christians” (only years later was this term coined), but simply followers of “The Way” – a shortened version of “the true way” or “the right way” in comparison to traditional Judaism and other religions. These early believers in Jesus continued to worship in the Jerusalem temple and observe the laws of Judaism.

However, these early followers of The Way differed greatly from other Jewish sects in that they believed that Jesus is the Messiah, that He had died for the remission of our sins (as the Holy Lamb of God), and that His resurrection from the dead ushered in a new age of God’s kingdom rule in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Everywhere, they preached in Jesus’ name and water baptized all new converts into The Way. They grew into a community of believers in Jerusalem devoted to practicing Jesus’ teachings, prayer and fellowship.

Water baptism (by full immersion in living water) was not a new concept to Jews. It was actually a common practice in those times. All pious Jews frequently immersed themselves in ritual pools known as “Mikveh’s”* to spiritually purify themselves. So the idea of water purification was not foreign to most Jews when John the Baptist came on the scene. They understood his message of repentance from sin and the corresponding outward act of purification by washing and immersion in a pool of water or river.

The Forerunner of Messiah.

Jesus is baptized by John to fulfill all righteousness.

John the Baptizer began his prophetic ministry around A.D. 28. His body was lean and hardened by years of solitary desert life. His hair and beard was long and unkempt, and he dressed in a single garment made of rough camel’s hair bound by a leather belt. He traveled the land preaching a passionate message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Many responded to John’s call for repentance and spiritual renewal. They would immediately wade out with John into the Jordan River, and he would baptize them as an outward demonstration of death to the old life of sin and resurrection to a new life of righteousness in Christ. Unlike the frequent Jewish Mikveh washings, John’s baptism was a one-time event for a renewed people of God.

John was God’s true prophet who led the way for the beginning of the Christian Church. Although he admitted that he was not the Messiah, the prophet Isaiah had long ago declared him to be the forerunner of Jesus the Messiah: “[John was] the one crying in the wilderness, making straight the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3)

John the Baptizer’s prophetic message struck conviction of sin and fear of God’s judgment among his hearers, so much so that even the religious Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by him. On one occasion he thundered at these religious leaders, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come! Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’…” John dispelled their false sense of security: neither their birthright as Jews nor their religious heritage nor their important leadership positions, would save them from God’s wrath to come if they did not open their hearts in true repentance; they were just as spiritually condemned as non-Jews.

Jesus the Messiah was greater than John.

John himself admitted he was not the Messiah, but a humble messenger of God. When questioned about whether he was Elijah, or “The Prophet” (spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18-19), he told them “I am not.” “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he [Jesus the Messiah] is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16).

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He came to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. One day while John was preaching, he saw a figure approaching him and immediately stopped and cried aloud, “This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is mightier that I, for he was before me” (John 1:15) When Jesus asked John to baptize Him, he was astonished and said, “I need to be baptized by You!” But Jesus insisted, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:13-14).

So John obeyed Jesus and baptized Him (even though Jesus should be the one baptizing John). As soon as Jesus emerged from the water, everyone saw the heavens open up and the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus “like a dove” (not an actual dove, but the Spirit’s gentle presence), and a voice came from heaven, saying, “You are my beloved Son; with You I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16).

The Christian Rite of Baptism

Water baptism by full immersion is the correct method.

John the Baptizer pioneered the rite of water baptism practiced in most Christian churches today. Although certain churches practice a “sprinkling” type of baptism, the correct way has always been by full immersion. The proper manner of baptism as performed by John, the twelve apostles, and the early Christians is the complete dunking method. The penitent sinner should acknowledge his repentance from sin and accept Jesus as his Savior while another believer or minister of God stands beside him or her, and extend God’s forgiveness and acceptance into the Christian family. According to Jesus’ command, the words should be spoken over the new convert, “I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the remission of your sins” (Matthew 28:18-19)

When I was a baby I was baptized by a Roman Catholic priest with the sprinkling of water on my forehead. But after I left the Roman Catholic Church and became a Born-Again Christian, I was baptized again. This second time it was by full immersion in a pool of water – just as Jesus and His disciples did.

If you have accepted Jesus the Messiah as your Savior and Lord and have never been water baptized (by full immersion), it’s time that you did so. You can be water baptized in a church baptismal, a swimming pool, a river, or even a spa – as long as you do it prayerfully with a repented heart towards God. Make sure you are able to go completely under the water; that’s how true believers have done it from the very beginning of the Christian church.

If water baptism was important to Jesus, it should be important to us. Don’t keep putting it off. I know God will bless you in a special way for honoring His Word.

–         Luis Josephus

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www.LuisJosephus.com
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* The Jewish rite of water purifification in a Mikvah (pool) was known as Tevilah. Tevilah was by full body immersion with “living” water from a Spring. The Mikvah had the proportions 3 cubits long & 1 cubits deep and 1 cubit wide. This was done for purifications before certain events such as spiritual cleansing, coming into the presence of God, marriage, and also after certain events such as childbirth and disease. Tevilah was also one of three requirements for conversion of the Gentiles to Judaism. The washing of hands & feet commonly practiced was a miniature Tevilah.

FOR FURTHER STUDY:
“Do I need to be baptized to be saved?”


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When You Miss the Mark

Backup_of_Missing the Mark 1The Bible tells us that all we are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God. But, what does it mean to sin?

The word sin comes from the Greek, hamartánō, which means to “miss the mark.” Miss what mark? Missing the mark is symbolism that is derived from the practice of archery – of having shot an arrow and failing to strike the target. Therefore, sin is having failed to strike the bulls eye of God’s standard of perfect obedience, or perfect living. I can relate to that! I admit, I have missed the mark many times myself. How about you?

I think we can all agree that none of us are perfect, nor have lived an absolutely perfect life. Yet, God’s standard for us to make it into heaven is still perfection, because there is no sin in heaven. Since God is holy and perfect in everything He does, everything in heaven is perfect, as it should be.

So, in order for us to be saved and allowed to enter into heaven, our heavenly Father sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to be perfect for us, and pay the penalty for our sins. Through our faith in Christ’s atoning work on the cross, His perfect obedience and righteousness is imputed unto us. Imputed means that our sin debt was placed upon Him on the cross, and His perfect righteousness is transferred unto us.

When did this occur? The day we believed.

It was a free gift of God’s grace through faith. We did not earn it, nor deserve it, but God gave it to us anyway. We are justified (cleared of all sin guilt) freely through the redemption that He provided for us in Jesus Christ.

Missing the Mark 2How far have you missed the mark?

Imagine participating in an archery competition: You shoot your arrow and get about three-quarters of the way to the target. Other people next to you shoot their arrows and only get about half the way. Still others may miss the mark by a mile while others by an inch. No matter how close anyone gets to the target, everyone is disqualified just the same. Our sin debt is like that.

Jesus Christ died to save every sinner.

It does not matter to God how close or how far you’ve gotten to the target, or how much you have sinned in the past, He is willing to forgive us all the same. Whether we’ve sinned a little or a lot, He does not judge us on this basis. Everyone is already condemned because no one was ever righteous enough to be saved by his or her own merits; everyone has missed the mark. There is none righteous, no not one.

However, when we come to faith in Christ, everyone is equally given a clean slate and allowed entrance into God’s kingdom on the same basis: By grace through faith alone.

Therefore, we conclude that since all of us have missed the mark and fallen short of God’s standard of perfection, we must enter into God’s kingdom by faith, trusting upon His grace and forgiveness. Because God is merciful, He provided a way for our sins to be punished on the cross of Christ, so that we would not have to suffer His judgment for our sins. God the Father has justified us and forgiven us completely, through our faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Afterward, through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, we are now capable of honoring and obeying God’s moral laws. We are no longer powerless to the desires of sin, but mighty in power to live victorious as conquerors in Christ. It is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us, who loved us and gave Himself for us.

Let us, therefore, endeavor to keep from continually missing the mark and making sinful choices. Let us honor God with our hearts, minds, and bodies forevermore.

– Luis Josephus

 

 



Scripture References:

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him apart from keeping the requirements of the law…Even the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe, for there is no difference. For everyone has sinned, and we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” – Romans 3:21-23

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

“…overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” – Romans 8:37


Study Notes:

“The Glory of God” in Romans 3:23 refers to the praise or approbation of God. The Jews had sought to be justified, or approved, by God the keeping of the Law, which was impossible to perfectly do. They did not realize they had all failed. Their works of the Law had not secured God’s approbation, and Jesus said they were still under condemnation.

The Hebrew word for sin is chata, pronounced khaw-taw. It also means to miss the target, make a mistake, an error in judgment, commit a sin against God. Sometimes the idea of sinning against a fellow human being is also present.

 


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Trust God in All Circumstances

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

Heavenly Father, I don’t know how everything in my life is going to work out, but I’m going to keep trusting you no matter what. Right now, I don’t see a way, but I know you will make a way. At this very moment, You are opening doors and lining up the right opportunities for me. Things may appear dark, but I have faith that my dawn is coming! In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

Trusting God in All Circumstances


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Waffling with God

Waffling with God_jpgWaffling or flip-flopping, by today’s definition, is a verb often used to describe a person (in a Christian context) who is indecisive, who lacks a strong sense of Christian commitment and character.

Are you like that?

Are you trying to walk both sides of the road: following the way of Christ and following the way of the world at the same time?

Chances are, you are confused in your mind and restless in your thoughts. You’re still living according to your fleshly passions, rather than by the Spirit of God who wants to free you from all instability and sin.

A double-minded person.

The Book of James describes you as a double-minded person who is unstable in all their ways:

But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver [waffle], for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. A double-minded person is unstable in everything they do.” – James 1:6-8

Double-minded believers are like waves in the sea, tossed to and fro, by every emotion, inclination or influence. One day you are up, and the next day you’re down. One moment you’re living for God, the next day you’re allowing the devil to control you. When you’re in church, you act like a Christian, but when you’re around worldly people, you tell dirty jokes, curse, lie and cheat – just like everyone else.

How long will you allow this to go on?

You are halted between two opinions. You need to make up your mind to be sincere with God and genuinely live for Christ. Not just in church on Sundays, but the rest of the week as well. If you don’t make a commitment to be a true Christian you’ll be laughed about by your worldly friends and labeled as just another hypocrite (and we have too many of those already in the church). Even your prayers will go unanswered. God will not approve of your waffling, and hold back His blessings until you stop flip-flopping.

Stop right now and pray. Ask God to forgive you. Promise Him you’re going to stop wavering in your commitment to Christ, and sincerely ask Him to give you the strength and grace you need to become a better Christian – one who shuns evil and makes wise choices. One who embraces a life of integrity and refuses to compromise his Christian convictions – no matter who criticizes you, or how many friends you may lose. That is the cross all true Christians must be willing to bear. Jesus said, if we refuse to take up our cross daily, we cannot be His disciples (Luke 14:26)

Allow God to transform you into the man or woman He created you to be. Desire to become a person who is steadfast in their faith, without hesitation. Despite life’s perplexities and trials, never waver, stand firm in your principles, steady in your integrity, and settled in your determinations – a person whose moral character anyone can understand, and in whom God can bless and confide.

– Luis Josephus

Logo_75 x 75_jpgLUIS JOSEPHUS MINISTRIES
www.LuisJosephus.com
EMAIL US

 


For further study:

Read about the children of Israel’s wavering between serving Jehovah God or serving Baal. The prophet Elijah rebuked them, saying:

“Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver [Waffle] between two opinions? If the LORD [Jehovah] is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’ But the people said nothing.” – 1 Kings 18:21

 


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The Bible’s Mic Drop

Mic DropRecently, during his final White House correspondents’ dinner, President Barack Obama ended his speech with “Obama Out,” then he dropped the microphone and walked away.

A “mic drop” is a modern parallel to spiking a football. It is a gesture that signals the end of a statement so definitive that it cannot possibly be followed. Nothing more to say. Notable mic-droppers over time have included everyone from Eddie Murphy to Chris Rock to the Arctic Monkeys.

The Bible is the authoritative Word of God

When God finished giving His written Word to man in the form of the Old and New Testaments, which we call the Bible, He also said in effect, “God Out”, and then added in the last book of Revelation:

“If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life…” – Revelation 22:18-19

The term “sola Scriptura” (Latin: the Bible alone) is a phrase that Bible scholars have used for centuries to describe the truth that the Bible, and it alone, is this final authority in all matters of faith and morals.

In today’s modern culture of moral relevance where anything goes, there is no right or wrong, if it feels good do it, the Bible stands against such thinking. True followers of Christ should never deviate from God’s commandments to abstain from immorality and sexual sin, for instance, no matter how many other people around you are doing it. If God called it a sin in the Bible, it is still a sin. Fornication, adultery, homosexuality is still immoral. Time hasn’t changed this fact, nor has God relaxed His demand for a life of holiness from His people.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, affirmed the Bible. In His prayer for believers in John 17:17, He said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” The Holy Scripture, is the believer’s standard of truth.

Beware of allowing post-modernist thinking that has subtlely crept into the church today to influence your view of the Bible and morality. What God has said in the past is still true today. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).

God has said it, I believe it, that settles it. Mic drop.

– Luis Josephus

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www.LuisJosephus.com
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Actor Jim Caviezel Testimony

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Watch this amazing testimony and words of Jim Caviezel, the actor who played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ film, which is the highest-grossing R-rated film in history just like the Holy Bible is the world’s best-selling book. Jim Caviezel is being interviewed by Dave Cooper.

The Passion InterviewThis interview is highly inspiring. He talks about how God’s Providence allowed him to suffer several very painful injuries and illnesses when filming which allowed him to participate in and portray Christ’s Passion in a deep and real way. He tells about the shocking fact that he was struck by lightning at one point in the production. He gives advice to all believers about the seriousness of living the Faith, not trying to “fit in” with our neo-pagan society, and the necessity, joy, and honor of suffering for Jesus Crucified for the salvation of souls. His testimony is amazing and real.


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The Extreme Language of Jesus

Hyperbole“I’m so hungry I can eat a horse.” “His brain is the size of a pea.” “My feet are killing me.” These are just some examples of Hyperbole, a figure of speech that uses an exaggerated or extreme statement to create a strong emotional response. Jesus Christ used hyperbole in many of His teachings, and these images were not to be taken literally. So before you “pluck your eye out” (Matthew 18:9) or fear that you’re going to burn in hell fire for having called someone a “fool” in anger (Matthew 5:22), remember that Jesus was merely trying to make a point and get you to think further about what He was saying. READ MORE: http://wp.me/pVLmq-11q

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