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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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* 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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Rebuke a Wise Man

A Wise Man_jpg

“Do not correct a fool or he will hate you; correct a wise man and he will appreciate you.” – Proverbs 9:8

Do you love God? I’m sure you do.

Do you love your church pastor?
Ah, maybe you have to think about that question some more. You see, too many Christians do not fully recognize that their local church pastor  or elder is God’s representative and spiritual authority over your life. They have been given the responsibility to look after you…to teach you and disciple you and protect you from straying away from God’s flock or making mistakes that will hurt your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Your local church pastor is your overseer (1 Peter 5:12). His is the ruling shepherd in the church and is accountable to God for you under the “Chief Shepherd” Jesus Christ. Their job is to feed you the Word of God, guide you in your spiritual walk, and guard over your souls.

Loving Reproof

It is also a pastor’s job to correct you when you’re doing something wrong. Some believers don’t like this part of a pastor’s function, but it is a biblical fact. Reproof and rebuke is often necessary for all of us. When your pastor reproves you, don’t get angry at him or falsely accuse him of being unloving. If he cares enough to correct you, he is demonstrating the same love that God has for you:

“For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son [or daughter] He receives.” – Hebrews 12:6

The Greek word used here for “chastening” is paideia. It not only carries the nuances of “discipline,” “rebuke,” and “correction,” but also the positive connotation of “training” and “guiding instruction” by a loving parent to bring their son or daughter to mature adulthood.

When a pastor chastens us for something that needs to be corrected in our lives, we should do the right and wise thing and accept his correction with humility. We should recognize that He loves us and desires to see us achieve our fullest potential in Christ.

“Reprove not a fool, lest he hate you.” The fool, on the other hand, does not respond well to reproof or discipline. He faints when being rebuked and becomes angry and resentful towards his pastor or God. The fool is destined to never learn from his mistakes or reach any spiritual maturity. Some are so prideful they will actually leave the church when reproved and fall away from God.

”… rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.”

The wise Christian doesn’t get their feelings hurt when reproved by their pastor because he regards the Lord’s discipline as evidence of his pastor’s love and concern. He sees God’s grace and commitment to us as our Father in his actions.

” Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:11

When we receive correction from those in church authority – such as a pastor or elder, instead of getting mad, let us remember the admonition of Jesus who declared that whom He loves, He rebukes. Instead of sulking in self-pity, let us repent quickly and learn to love reproof.

” As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.“ – Revelation 3:19

– Luis Josephus

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Jewish Man Converts To Jesus

Jewish man converts to Jesus

There are many Jewish people today coming to faith in Christ. Contrary to Rabbinical teachings, they are believing that Jesus (Yeshua) was indeed the promised Messiah and the Savior of all mankind. Like Glenn Blank says in his conversion testimony, “You don’t have to give up your Jewish identity to believe in Jesus.” He came to faith in Jesus Christ the Messiah while personally studying the New and Old Testament Bible, and the Messianic prophecies fulfilled by Jesus.

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Abraham’s Moral Weakness

Abraham n Sarah 2Although Abraham distinguished himself in Bible history as a man of great faith, he was not without fault. Like all believers in the true and living God, he made some mistakes, which he had to repent of, and receive God’s forgiveness.

There was one occasion in particular when Abraham failed to trust in Yahovah God’s protection and took matters into his own hands. When his life was endangered, Abraham put his wife Sarah in a position to be sexually defiled by another man in order to save his own skin.

The incident occurs in Egypt where Abraham had to take his family to find food (Genesis 12:10-20). At the time, there was a grievous famine in the land of Canaan where Abraham lived, and he was forced to travel to Egypt which had plenty.

Sarah’s Beauty

Even at 65 years of age, Sarah was still a beautiful woman and Abraham became fearful that the Egyptians would murder him in order to take his wife (a habit not uncommon in the Middle East). Therefore, Abraham asked Sarah to lie for him and tell the Egyptians she was his sister.

“Say, I pray thee, you are my sister; that it may be well with me for your sake; and my soul shall live because of you.” – Genesis 12:13

Unfortunately, the king of Egypt himself (Pharaoh) took an interest in Sarah’s beauty and brought her into his harem of many wives. But before he could have sexual relations with her, God stepped in to correct Abraham’s mistake. He sent a plague on Pharaoh and his household. When Pharaoh realized what was happening – that he was under a curse, he called for Abraham and confronted him with his deceit.

“What is it you have done to me? Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’? so that I might have taken her [sexually] to be my wife?” Now therefore, here is your wife back; take her and go your way.” – Genesis 12:18-19

Abraham’s failure to trust God to deliver him out of any trouble and resort to dishonoring his own wife shows us that Abraham’s  faith  was not yet fully developed; he was still morally weak. However, Abraham did much better as he grew older and wiser in his latter years.  As a matter of fact, Abraham became known as the “Father of our faith” because of his overall exemplary accomplishments (Hebrews 11:8-12).

We can certainly relate to Abraham, when we examine our own lives.

How often have we made mistakes of our own? How many times have we made fools of ourselves for making wrong choices, or failing to trust God as we should? But despite these early setbacks, we can hopefully look back on our own lives and see how much better we are today than yesterday, by the grace of God. How much stronger is our faith today than it used to be, how we have spiritually grown since we first believed.

Praise be to God for never giving up on us; His mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23). Stop punishing yourself for the mistakes of the past, and keep looking forward to the glorious future that God has destined for you. Remember that Jesus our Lord, is the “author” and “finisher” of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He will never give up on us until He has completed his work in us. It’s not how you start the race that matters most, but how you finish.

– Luis Josephus

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God Can Re-Write Your Story

Cover_smReal Jesus Ministries, Inc. has created a new website exclusively devoted to providing an online platform for testimonies like YOURS.

The Power of Your Testimony.

Everyone who has received Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord has a testimony of how God has transformed your life. When we received the forgiveness of our sins and became spiritually re-born through faith in God’s Son, all of us experienced changes in our lives that the world needs to know. In fact, the Bible tells us we are now “New Creatures in Christ” and God will use your story to draw other people to want to know Jesus, too.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold , all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…” –Revelation 12:11

Share YOUR STORY of how God re-wrote your life when you received Christ by going to our new website, www.GodCanRewriteYourStory.com and clicking on the link, Submit Your Story. You don’t have to be a professional writer. We’ve made it easy for you to tell your story by using our automated form.

You’ll be amazed how much better you’ll feel knowing that others who read about your faith experience will be encouraged and given hope by your testimony.

Plus, you too will be edified when you read the testimonies of others!

Go to: www.GodCanRewriteYourStory.com

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True Wisdom

True wisdom fears and respects God almighty.

True wisdom fears and respects God almighty.

Men of Wisdom Conference

I was invited to be a guest speaker at a recent evangelistic meeting, “Men of Wisdom,” featuring various pastors and Bible teachers. Here is the message I preached, where lives were impacted and souls were saved, for the glory of God.

– Pastor Luis Yosefus

– — – – – – –

What is true wisdom?

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” – Psalms 111:10

A truly wise man or woman, regardless of their education or lack thereof, no matter if they’re rich or poor, can be wise because they fear and respect God. It is true that God is a god of love, but He is also a god of judgment.  Therefore, we always need to live our lives mindful of this fact. Because we are sinful people who, knowingly or unknowingly, commit sin every day of our lives, we need to make sure that we confess our sins daily and be cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus.

Who is a foolish person?

A foolish person says there is no God, and no sin, and no judgment day. They reject the grace of God and His free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. But although they are in denial,  and have allowed Satan to blind them to the reality of God, they will one day stand before almighty God at the Great White Throne Judgment.

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. “ – Revelation 20:11-15

Either you name will be found written in the Book of Life – where your sins have been atoned for by the blood of Jesus on the cross, or your name will be written in the Book of Death and Judgment. In these books of judgment, God has kept a very detailed record of your life. Every evil word you have spoken, every wicked deed you have committed, and every shameful thought that has crossed your mind will be listed there. No one whose names appear in the Books of Death and Judgment will escape the wrath of God. They will be cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity.

In which book is your name written?

Is your name written in the Book of Life, or the Book of Judgment? If your name is written in the Book of Life you don’t need to fear God’s judgment anymore. All those who have their names written in the Book of Life will be saved by grace through faith. They will not be judged by their works, but by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His imputed righteousness. They have been forgiven of all their sins and cleansed by His blood. God will never remember their sins again!

Romans 8:1-2 assures us that “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death.”

We are saved by grace through faith, not of our own works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

No matter what type of life you’ve lived in the past, no matter what sins you have committed, your name can be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life today – if you repent and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. That is the greatest and wisest decision you can ever make. Unfortunately, too many people are fools to the very end of their lives. They never believe, and never repent, and they reject God’s free gift of salvation.

I admonish you today, to become the wisest person in the world, and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Be saved before it’s too late!

2 Corinthians 6:2, in the New Living Translation reads, For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.”

Today is the day of salvation…Won’t you receive Jesus right now?

Bow your head and pray this prayer out loud, and mean it with all your heart:

“Dear Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins. I ask you to forgive me of my sins and become the Savior and Lord of my life. Amen.”

If you just prayed this prayer, write us and let us know so we can rejoice with you!

–         Pastor Luis Yosephus

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Who wrote the Desert Song?

Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers

QUESTION: I absolutely love the “Desert Song” by Hillsong United. Does anybody know the story behind it? I was told that the lady who wrote it lost her baby the week before she wrote it. Does anybody have any more details? I want to know because I really think God sent me this song today when I really needed it. My sister is pregnant and the baby isn’t expected to live very long. I heard the song at church this morning for the first time and it made me cry. Then someone told me about the circumstances behind the writing of the song. Please let me know if you know any more. – Love2Sign251

ANSWER: Although many have wrongly attributed the writing to Brooke Fraser, the woman who actually wrote this most beautiful worship song is Jill McCloghry, also a member of Hillsong United.

In the following video interview below she personally describes the painful loss of her baby and her struggle with trusting God in the middle of distress, which led to the writing of the Desert Song.

Click on the video link below to view the entire interview of the making of the Desert Song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEE4gvyFN2s

Jill McCloghry

Jill McCloghry

In her own words, Jill recounts:

“About a week and a half before the recording, I went into labor… I was about six months pregnant with our first little boy, Max… had him at the hospital and he was only 23 weeks and five days old. So he was really little. But we had him and he was alive, and he was in the neonatal ICU, you know, where they were kind of taking care of him. And we basically spent a full day with him and we believed and we prayed that he would be okay, but we trusted that God was in control. And that night he died of, you know, just being too little basically. I actually remember sitting in a hospital right after everything happened and knowing that I needed to sing, that I needed to still do what I know I’m supposed to be doing and that I felt like that was just a victory for us. Right now, anyways, it’s just choosing to worship all the time; that’s what it is for me cause I don’t…I don’t always feel like it. Sometimes I don’t feel like singing to God, but [sigh] I know that my circumstance in the season doesn’t change and that God is still God. It doesn’t change what God’s called me to be or what He’s called me to do. He’s still on the throne in heaven, you know, and He still rules, and He still bigger than everything that I’m facing.

 Co-singer Brooke Fraser also commented:

“For Jill and I to sing together on the night was such a privilege for me. Aside from her being an amazing worship leader and being anointed and carrying the authority that she does… Just as her friend and sister in Christ, I was so proud of her and aware of the weight of her singing that. And just feeling so…I mean it was, it was a real emotional moment and just also being aware that her standing there with her glorifying God in the midst of her loss and her tragedy, and that the devil lost what he was trying to achieve.”

Jill McCloghry added:

“Even when you say things that you know are true, but you might not necessarily fully understand it, I think that just being able to look at God and say things that are true of Him, and declare the word of God, and declare the promises of God which is that, when in the fire, and when I’m being refined, and when I’m in battle, and when the triumph isn’t here yet but it’s coming, I think that you look at God and say, “I know this is who You are…” and He does get bigger in your life. It takes over the things in you that feel so shattered. And it makes Him the focus, and it begins to put those things back together.”

Sarah M. Bosse concluded:

“Like Job, we must sing and praise through the pain. That’s REAL WORSHIP – it connects with REAL LIFE and raises up a trusting hand to the One who reaches down to save us from drowning. It acknowledges God in the midst of life and declares, “There is a GREATER REALITY and I live in and for that REALITY!” No one but the Christian has such a claim and right to hope in eternal life with the Saving God.”

Thanks to: http://answers.yahoo.com

– – – – – – – –

Desert Song – Click on link below to view full concert video by Hillsong United:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1MPv9pt1vc

Hillsong United Video

Brooke Fraser and Jill McCloghry singing the Desert Song.

In this concert video Jill McCloghry begins by reading Psalm 66:1-20.

Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
    Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power
that your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you,
they sing the praises of your name.”[a]

Come and see what God has done,
his awesome deeds for mankind!
He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the waters on foot—
come, let us rejoice in him.
He rules forever by his power,
his eyes watch the nations—
let not the rebellious rise up against him.

Praise our God, all peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard;
he has preserved our lives
and kept our feet from slipping.
10 For you, God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.
11 You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.
12 You let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.

13 I will come to your temple with burnt offerings
and fulfill my vows to you—
14 vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke
when I was in trouble.
15 I will sacrifice fat animals to you
and an offering of rams;
I will offer bulls and goats.

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
and has heard my prayer.
20 Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!

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