A Cross With Wheels

Various years back, I was driving through Charleston, WV and I saw a nearby religious identity conveying a cross at the edge of the street. He was endeavoring to make individuals think about the colossal yield of Christ. Be that as it may, as I drove past this man, I saw that his cross had wheels.

On the other hand, only this previous end of the week, while I was driving in Bowling Green, I saw two men conveying crosses on the same of the street, trailed by a horde of around 30 or 40 individuals. As I passed these two men, I took a gander at the crosses they were conveying and beyond any doubt enough, they excessively both had wheels.

I comprehend why they set wheels on these crosses. There’s the issue of toughness, harm to the cross, keeping the cross generally spotless, yet the main issue is comfort! In any case, that is the place the incongruity and the driving force for this article emerges. There’s nothing advantageous about a cross! Truth be told, it was intended to be a badly arranged, horrifying, and embarrassing intends to slaughter somebody. Helpful crosses? They don’t exist…or in any event shouldn’t.

On the off chance that I can bounce from what I saw this previous end of the week to an otherworldly application, would state that from the looks of things, I trust that many individuals have endeavored to put “wheels on their cross.” Remember that Jesus said that keeping in mind the end goal to be one of his devotees, one must deny himself, take up a cross day by day, and tail him (Luke 9:23). From what I’ve seen in a few, as opposed to denying self, and bearing one’s cross day by day, some have endeavored to embellish their cross. Unwilling to dismiss Christ totally, they endeavor to mold a cross of comfort – crosses with wheels.

Our general public has made a symbol out of the cross. We wear them around our neck, they dangle from our ears, and they are even inked on our bodies. I think about along these lines whether many have not neglected to grasp the criticalness of the cross. The cross speaks to benevolence, give up, dutifulness, commitment, and forbearance. Do you think the vast majority understand that?

The cross is more than a bit of gems or a knickknack, and they unquestionably don’t have wheels. There’s nothing helpful about a cross.

My recommendation to the individuals who wish to increase open consideration via taking a cross…take away the wheels! Those wheels are incomprehensible with the message of the cross. I most definitely, saw the wheels, not the cross. Try not to reduce the weight of the cross by decorating it with something that makes it helpful.

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Very Profound

Dan Erickson announced in an online sermon that Arnold Schwarzenegger stated, “I read where one spouse intends to separate her significant other when she can figure out how to do as such without making him upbeat.” regardless of the way that the Bible says whoever finds a wife finds something to be thankful for (Proverbs 18:22), a large number of individuals end up under a pile of marriage hopelessness. Their experience mirrors what the late extraordinary Minnie Pearl once said in regards to marriage — “Gettin’ hitched resembles scrubbing down in a tub of boiling water. After for a short time, it ain’t so hot.” So it would appear for some. The fire has failed and the adoration didn’t last. These previous fifty years have seen America turn into the most separation inclined country on earth. Numerous who said “I do” truly didn’t, at any rate not “until the point that demise do us part.” More like, “until the point when obligation do us part.” Instead of “inasmuch as we both should live” the genuine truth for some is “until the point when one of us is worn out on it.” disregarding the way that God is on record as saying He despises separate (Malachi 2:16), vast quantities of individuals now see separate as being ethically unbiased, a freeing and life-upgrading choice to be practiced if/when the marriage enchantment vanishes. Demigod Rod Stewart, himself twice separated, verbalized the easygoing mentality toward marriage he and a large number of others have carried on. He stated, “I think marriage promises ought to be changed, in light of the fact that they’ve been in presence for a long time, when individuals used to live until the point that they were just 35. So they just must be with each other for a long time, at that point they would pass on at any rate. Be that as it may, now, it’s a major responsibility since you will be with somebody for a long time. It’s unimaginable. The promises ought to be composed like a puppy’s permit that must be reestablished each year.”

Stewart’s announcement advises us that millions have essentially lost their way as respects marriage and God’s will for it. Men have all around rejected what the Lord needs to say in regards to marriage and separation. Many condemn the Bible’s instructing regarding this matter as hard and unreasonable. While I could never blame Rod Stewart for being a Bible researcher, he is appropriate around one thing – marriage is a major duty. Three verses from 1 Corinthians 7 remind us exactly how enormous — “Now to the wedded I charge, yet not I but rather the Lord: a spouse is not to withdraw from her better half. In any case, regardless of the possibility that she departs, let her stay unmarried or be accommodated to her significant other. Also, a spouse is not to separate his significant other. . . .A spouse is bound by law as long as her significant other lives; yet in the event that her better half bites the dust, she is at freedom to be hitched to whom she wishes, just in the Lord” (verses 10-11, 39). The point in this article is not to deny that marriage is unpleasant, extreme work, some of the time more acrid than it is sweet, more hurt than it is bliss, more give than it is get. Anyone who says it isn’t has never been hitched. However, none of that progressions the way that a marriage must be founded on duty, not accommodation, on the off chance that it is to last. A decent marriage is difficult yet nor is it incomprehensible. What is required is a profound situated responsibility regarding the will of God and one’s mate.

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Instilling Values in Our Children

One of the most challenging tasks confronting parents is that of instilling within their children a proper set of values. This makes parenthood a tremendous responsibility for such values will provide them with motivation and guidance throughout their lives (Prov. 22:6). Parents should neither neglect this challenge nor start too early to accomplish it.

The General Basis for All Values

There is no better basis for selection of values upon which to base our own or our children’s lives than the two principles Jesus suggested in Matthew 22 as the great commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (v. 37). “You shall love your neighbor as your self” (v. 39).

These two principles form the basis of the Law and the instruction of the prophets and a proper set of values which will enable us and our children to live profitably before God and with our fellow man. Using them as a basis will enable us and our children to meet the lofty ideals God has set for us. But we must first be living by them ourselves before we ever attempt to teach them to our children.

It is important to reinforce our teaching with example. As our children see these values exemplified in our lives, they will want to duplicate them in their own lives.

Some Values We Should Instill Within Our Children

Children ought to have a proper perspective on the value of education. A well-rounded education is important, yet, knowledge of the word of God is most valuable. Sadly, some Christians instill within their children the concept that worldly attainment and knowledge is more valuable than spiritual knowledge. During the school year Bible class teachers are confronted with parental encouraged absences from Bible study with the excuse, “Junior just had to get his homework.” Such permissiveness on the part of parents teaches children that their earthly education is of more value than a spiritual one. Children need to learn that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7).

Children ought to be taught to select careers which will facilitate faithfulness to God. Children must learn to recognize the importance of the decision of what one chooses to do with his/her life. Congregations everywhere suffer because too many who claim to be Christians become involved in the pursuit of a career and leave no time for serving God. Church growth cannot help but suffer. But the biggest problem is that one who focuses more on the “here and now” will soon be drawn away by it and their love for it and become apostate.

Parents must instill within children the importance of building their future as God’s servants. Nearly all parents plan for the secular futures of their children but how much emphasis is placed on preparation for their futures in the kingdom of God? While many encourage their children to be doctors, lawyers, etc., how many encourage their children to plan on being deacons, elders, preachers and Bible class teachers. Do your children see in you a high regard for service to God and the work of the church or do they see parents who are apathetic and uninvolved in the good works one is to be doing in Christ (Eph. 2:10; Titus 2:14)?

How to Instill Proper Values in Children

1. Begin regular spiritual training in their first year of life and continue consistently through all their developing years (Prov. 22:6).

2. Demonstrate to them at all times that God is the most important thing in your life.

3. Let their earliest memories include daily readings of Bible stories and frequent discussions of the word of God.

4. Give them their own Bible even before they can read. Have them begin a lifetime habit of regular memorization and review of important Bible verses.

5. Teach them to pray.

6. Have regular “devotional” times as a family and speak often to your children of the joys of serving God.

7. Spend the necessary time to be the main spiritual teacher of your children — more so than the preacher or Bible class teacher, etc. Remember, you have the primary responsibility of teaching your children the ways of the Lord.

8. Teach them that lying is one of the worst things they could ever do.

9. Train them early in principles of modesty.

10. Keep their speech pure by not allowing yourself or them to ever use profanity.

11. Help keep their minds pure by monitoring their reading and viewing materials and personal friendships closely in their early years (1 Cor. 15:33).

12. Be responsible enough to bring up the subject of sex and morality with your children. They will either learn about it from you or from the world.

13. Instill in your children a strong desire to save themselves for the one who will someday be their mate.

14. Reinforce your moral teaching by setting specific guidelines for dating.

15. Train your children to date only those who are morally upright and urge them to plan on marrying a Christian.

16. Teach them the virtue of work by giving them regular jobs and responsibilities around the home.

17. Train them to never get too busy with secular pursuits to do something for the Lord’s cause.

18. Encourage them often to plan the future of their lives to include a “career” for Christ (Bible class teacher, song leader, preacher, deacon, elder, elder’s wife, deacon’s wife, etc.).

19. Build a family life in such a way that “home” is a happy place.

20. Be the kind of child your heavenly Father would have you to be. You will not only be pleasing God but will be the kind of parent who will be able to place within the hearts of your children the principles and values of Scripture.

Conclusion

If we want our children to grow into faithful, active Christians, we must begin with our examples, reinforcing them with our teaching and encouragement and then continue, prayerfully, to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).

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Family Devotion

“O LORD, correct me, but with justice; not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing. Pour out Your fury on the Gentiles, who do not know You, and on the families who do not call on Your name; for they have eaten up Jacob, devoured him and consumed him, and made his dwelling place desolate.” (Jeremiah 10:24-25)

The above prophecy was made to Judah after the ten northern tribes had already been carried into Assyrian captivity. The southern tribes refused to learn from that experience and continued to turn their backs on God.

Jeremiah prophesies that Judah would also fall captive to a foreign power, Babylonia. It is not surprising to find the fury of God poured out on heathen nations, people who did not know, recognize or believe God. But it is surprising to read that the “fury” of God would be poured out on “the families who do not call on Your name.” These were families of the Jews who failed to worship God as they should.

God demanded that the Jews assemble for public worship. For example, Jeremiah 26:2 required them to go to Jerusalem for worship. But God also demanded families gather and call on His name as families. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deut. 6:6-7).

This same principle is taught in the New Testament. “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). This principle, devotion as a family, should characterize all families, including mine and yours, but, sadly, it seems to have little application today among many who claim to be children of God and put the Lord first.

Why Have Family Devotion

There are many reasons to have worship as a family. They include the following.

  • To help our children develop a proper attitude toward the Lord. Our children scrutinize our lives and thus, most of the time, develop the attitudes we have and make the judgments we make. Usually, they will not get their attitudes so much from what you teach but what you say and do. If, in your home, the Lord is seldom mentioned, the church only spoken of complainingly in disparaging terms, and God’s sovereignty is never acknowledged, your children will, more than likely, develop the same attitude. If, on the other hand, there is a constant spirit of reverence, a steady devotion to Christ, and daily acknowledgment of God’s rule over the household, your children will develop those attitudes.
  • To confess our faults to one another and pray (Jas. 5:16). There is not a person who does not need to do this (Rom. 3:23). What better place to do it than in the home? Sometimes, though, parents are hypocritical. They leave the impression that they are above sin. There is not a parent who is not guilty of sin. It is a tragic mistake to leave the impression that parents are blameless.
  • To offer thanksgiving for all that we have (1 Thes. 5:17-18; Col. 3:17). Every blessing is from God. We would not have them if not for His grace. It is easy to leave the impression with our children, though, that we are responsible for the things we have. We should not be high-minded and fail to give God the credit. While it is true that we work for what we have, if not for the power and love of God, we would have nothing. We need, as a family, to come together with hum-ility and gratitude and let our children know that all blessings come from a loving heavenly Father.
  • Because of the example good people have left for us. Abraham believed in family devotion (Gen. 18:19). Joshua was confident his house would serve God (Josh. 24:15). Timothy was taught “the faith” since he was a child (2 Tim. 1:5)

What to Do in Family Devotion

  • Read the Bible. Make your reading brief. It needs to be enjoyable for children.
  • Discuss what you’ve read. Let children express themselves and ask questions. It becomes more enjoyable for them if they are part of the activities.
  • Pray to God. Teach children to be thankful for blessings. Teach them to be humble by the humility you demonstrate.

Conclusion

If you are too busy to spend time teaching and studying God’s word with your children, put on the brakes and slow down. It is a terrible mistake to think that children get all the spiritual instruction they need at public classes and worship services.

If you have a family devotion, great. If not, start now. It could mean eternal life for both you and your children.

Elkanah, A Model Father

The responsibility God gives to fathers is great. Ephesians 6:4 tells them that they must bring up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Sadly, many fathers, even those who claim to be Christians, fail to accept the responsibilities of fatherhood causing much grief in many families.

It behooves us, therefore, to teach men their God-given responsibilities in respect to their children. One of the best ways to do that is to study the examples given to us in the Bible of those men who were good fathers.

There are many men we could consider. Abraham, Zebedee, and Joseph, the “father” of Jesus, come to mind. In this article, though, we will focus on a character that is not widely known or closely studied. We will examine the example of Elkanah, the father of Samuel.

Elkanah is presented unto us in the first chapter of First Samuel. Though it does not seem that much information is given concerning him as a father, in reality, there is a great deal to be learned from him in this text (1 Samuel 1:1–28).

He Set An Example Of Worship And Service

He was concerned with worshiping God (1 Sam. 1:3). This speaks more of him than stating his wealth, physical appearance, fame, etc. Notice, he did not go to worship alone. His family accompanied him (1 Sam. 1:21). Children need to accompany parents to all services.

He trained his family to worship by supplying them with individual portions for sacrifice to God (1 Sam. 1:4). Fathers need to train their children to worship properly today.

He Loved His Wife

He loved Hannah, his wife, the mother of his children (1 Sam. 1:5). Husbands are to love their wives (Eph. 5:25). Through the love a husband has for his wife, the love for their children is revealed. Someone has said, “The best thing a father can do for his children is to be a good husband to their mother.”

He Cooperated In Rearing Their Child

Hannah prayed to God for a son and promised to devote him to service to Him if her prayer were answered (1 Sam. 1:11). Elkanah concurred with her decision and allowed his son Samuel to be given to Eli, the priest (1 Sam. 1:3).

He Was Possessed By God

The name Elkanah means “God has possessed.” He was the man he was, the husband he was, and the father he was because he was God-possessed. He had given himself to God. God was in control of his life. Such is probably the key to success in fatherhood — whether or not one’s life has been given in submission to the will of God.

 

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A Beautiful Woman

Recently, People Magazine published its annual issue which contained a list of “The Fifty Most Beautiful People in the World.” A picture of Julia Roberts, a talented and attractive movie star, graced the cover. The editors considered her to be the most beautiful person in the world today.

Who is the world’s most beautiful woman? She is not a movie star. She does not live in Hollywood. She has never been in a beauty contest. She may be living in your city and, for the most part, go unnoticed as a person. We can learn of her by reading and studying 1 Peter 3:1-6. Let us read and see what a truly beautiful woman is like.

She is a Christian. The apostle Peter wrote this epistle to Christians (1 Pet. 1:1-2). She is included in it.

She is a godly person. Peter speaks of her as being like “the holy women” of former times.

As one who is married, she is in subjection to her husband. Since this is a command from God (Eph. 5:22), she believes that a woman gets her greatest happiness and fulfillment in submitting entirely to the will of God.

She is characterized by chaste behavior. Such behavior properly influences others. She realizes she must be a “light” in the world (Matt. 5:14-16), especially to her family. The conduct of the modern, worldly woman would never lead her husband or anyone else to Christ. Her adornment is not outward but spiritual. She is not obsessed with carnal attractiveness. She does not prize what the Proverbist calls “passing beauty” (Prov. 31:30). Rather, she esteems “the beauty of holiness” (Psa. 29:2). Her beauty is that of “the hidden person of the heart.” She has “the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.” Peter says that such a beauty is “very precious in the sight of God.” It should also be precious to us.

She is meek and humble — gentle and quiet. She is not as the daughters of Zion were in Isaiah’s time. Isaiah writes of them in Isaiah 3:16-26: “Moreover the Lord says: ‘Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with outstretched necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, making a jingling with their feet, Therefore the Lord will strike with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will uncover their secret parts.’ In that day the Lord will take away the finery: the jingling anklets, the scarves, and the crescents; The pendants, the bracelets, and the veils; The headdresses, the leg ornaments, and the headbands; the perfume boxes, the charms, and the rings; the nose jewels, the festal apparel, and the mantles; the outer garments, the purses, and the mirrors; the fine linen, the turbans, and the robes. And so it shall be: instead of a sweet smell there will be a stench; instead of a sash, a rope; instead of well-set hair, baldness; instead of a rich robe, a girding of sackcloth; and branding instead of beauty. Your men shall fall by the sword, and your mighty in the war. Her gates shall lament and mourn, and she being desolate shall sit on the ground.” Rather than being like these women, the one Peter describes is a woman whose spirit is not only meek but also “quiet.” She is neither a nag nor a complainer.

Conclusion

What a wonderful woman Peter describes in this text. What an earnest, spiritual, attractive woman she is. She is a true wife and a godly Christian. She has a remarkable, pervading influence for good.

Many women have been molded into such beauty by God’s word. It presents several to us: Mary, mother of Jesus (Luke 2:30); Phoebe (Rom. 16:1-2); Priscilla, wife of Aquila (Rom. 16:3-4); and Lois, grandmother of Timothy, and Eunice, his mother (2 Tim. 1:5).

Who is the most beautiful woman in the world? She is the godly woman who is living her life by the word of God.

Withstanding God

In his explanation given to his brethren at Jerusalem of what had happened at the house of Cornelius (Acts 10), the apostle Peter informed them why he taught Cornelius and the other Gentiles who were present in his house (Acts 11). Such an explanation was necessary because, until this occasion, no Gentile had been taught the gospel let alone allowed to obey it. So Peter had to explain, in detail to his Jewish brethren, his involvement in this conversion and what prompted him to teach the gospel to those, who in the eyes of the Jews, would be unfit to receive it.

He started by telling them of the vision he had seen while lodging at the house of Simon the tanner at Joppa (Acts 11:4-10). In that vision the Lord informed him that what had been cleansed, Peter should not regard as “common” or unclean (v. 9). He told of the three messengers sent by Cornelius from Caesarea and how the Spirit “bade” him to go with them (vv. 11-12). He told of his arrival at Cornelius’ house. He related what Cornelius had said of a visit from an angel and how the angel instructed him to send for Peter so that he could tell him “words, whereby thou and all they house shall be saved” (vv. 13-14). Peter then told those Jews that as he began to speak that the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and the other Gentiles present as it had on the apostles “at the beginning,” the day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2 when the gospel was preached in its fullness for the first time (v. 15). He said this stirred his memory and that he recalled the words of the Lord concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit (v. 16). He brought his defense to a close by saying that if God gave the Gentiles “the like gift as He did unto us…what was I, that I could withstand God?” (v. 27).

His explanation and defense could be summed up by saying, “It was the will of God that the Gentiles hear and obey the gospel. Who am I or what am I that I could withstand God and His will?”

Peter’s actions and conclusions were correct. Even though he was an apostle, he did not have the right to rebel against, ignore, or alter the will of God in any way. No one has that right. God’s will takes precedence over everything else.

Yet, even today there are many people who withstand God. But just as Peter did not have the right to do it, neither do they. Still, many persist in their resistance and rebellion. Some of the ways that people “withstand God” today follow below.

They rebel against the will of God by sinning. Sin is a transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4). Sin is nothing less than outright rebellion against God. God has stated His will for man and when people transgress that will they “withstand God.” Instead of rebelling against His will, all should rather follow the example of Jesus found in John 6:68 where He said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me.”

Ignoring God and His will is another way to “withstand God.” God has provided the gospel to save sinful man (Rom. 1:16). One must give obedience to it. To disregard or ignore it is to “withstand God” for it is God’s desire that all be saved (2 Pet. 3:9). Hence, disobedience to the gospel is contrary to His will. Those who disobey it will have to reckon with the vengeance of the Lord (2 Thes. 1:7-9).

Altering the word of God causes one to “withstand God” and makes him accursed. Galatians 1:6-9 states that no one, not even an angel, has the right to alter the word of God in any way. Revelation 22:18-19 says that no one may add to or take away from God’s word. Still people “withstand God” by omitting certain of His commands in their religious worship, practice, and/or teaching. Others add to the word by adding practices that are foreign to the will of God. Some pull ideas from the Bible out of context thus perverting the intended meaning. In all of these, they “withstand God.”

Do not be one who will “withstand God.” Instead, imitate Jesus and Peter and do the Father’s bidding in all things.
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What Hope Could I Give?

I was taking advantage of the good weather the other day to do some much needed maintenance at my house. The gutters needed cleaned, the bushes trimmed and the leaves raked from the lawn and put on the mulch pile. After blowing the leaves from the rain gutters and trimming the bushes, I set about to get the leaves out of the yard. Last year I had bought a mulching mower with a bag attachment that spares me from the arduous task of raking, bagging and hauling the leaves away. My Dad would call it the “lazy man’s way” of doing the job — and I suppose he’s right. I prefer to think of it as putting technology to work for me.

I cranked the engine on the mower and made a swath by the driveway marveling at how clean the path behind me was. As I neared the curb, the neighbor lady across the street turned her small truck into her driveway. I looked up, just long enough to see who it was, then returned my gaze to the ground. When I reached the street, I stopped and turned the mower. During my turn, I was startled to see this lady standing about three feet from me. I wondered what she wanted for, though they have lived there nearly a year, they don’t normally speak or even wave. I thought that maybe she had heard me grousing about her barking dog the day before and was going to set me straight. But I had only muttered to myself. She couldn’t have heard it.

Without any preliminary small talk, she asked, “You’re a preacher, aren’t you?” I suppose someone in the neighborhood had told her.

“Yes, I am,” I tentatively replied wondering why she asked.

“Did you hear about the girl who got killed in ______, Georgia (she specified a town) the first part of this month?” she asked. Her voice trembled, her eyes teared. She bit her lip.

“No. I had not heard of it.”

“Well, she was murdered. She was my sister. Now, I’m not a church goer but I am asking those who are to pray for her. Would you?” The tears began to freely flow from her eyes.

“I will pray. I will pray for you and for your family. I am really sorry to hear of your loss.”

She crossed the street and went into her house. The mower was still running. The whole episode had only taken 30 seconds. I resumed my work, my mind racing.

How sorry I felt for this girl. I realized how insulated our lives are. Here this woman, living just across the street, had experienced a great tragedy and I knew not one thing of it. I also realized how in this tragedy she was so desperately seeking comfort, a way to ease her pain, that she would approach a total stranger about it.

She hadn’t asked me to pray for her but for her sister who had died. I did not want to tell her but, at this point in time, praying for her sister would not help. Her fate, no matter what it may be, is now sealed. Hebrews 9:27 says that only judgment follows death. There was no hope I could give her that would change her sister’s destiny. But I can try to change hers.

I am praying for her and for her family. I am praying for the opportunity to influence her with the gospel of Christ. I may not be able to affect her sister’s destiny but I can try to positively influence hers. I pray that in some way she can see the need to be a “church goer” and seek out the Lord’s church and His gospel. I’ll try to be a better neighbor, set a proper example and seek opportunities to speak and talk — things I should have been doing all along.

May each of us be reaching out to others with the hope that Christ gives in his gospel. It may be too late to help the dead but we must try to reach the living.

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What Hinders You from Being Baptized?

Written by my friend Gene Taylor.

The above question was asked by the man from Ethiopia after Philip had “preached Jesus” to him (Acts 8:35). This man knew he needed to obey the gospel for the salvation of his soul (Romans 1:16). He knew that baptism for the remission of sins was a part of that gospel (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). Having been convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, having been convicted of his sins, and seeing his need to obey, he did not want to delay his obedience. Realizing that he must be baptized, he did not want anything to keep him from doing it.

How different his attitude seems to be from that of many I have encountered over the years I have preached. They know the truth. They know they need to obey the truth. They are planning on obeying “some day.” But then they always mention something that they “have to take care of first” before they can be baptized. It may be something as generic as “I have to get some things straightened out first” or as specific as “I am waiting until my mother dies because it would just break her heart if I turned my back on her religion” (Actual quotes made to me). The Ethiopian realized there was nothing more important than obedience to Christ. He knew, as all Christians know, that the only way to “straighten out” your life is by giving it to Jesus Christ and allowing His gospel to mold you and transform you into His image (Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 2:5).

The underlying problem of those who delay obedience is a matter of priority. Giving obedience to Christ has not become of paramount importance to them. As King Agrippa in Acts 26, they are “almost” not “altogether” convinced (vs. 28-29). Their will is still more important to them than the will of God.

How refreshing it is, then, when someone today has that same attitude of the man from Ethiopia — that they will not allow anything to keep them from obeying Christ and from being baptized. No matter the obstacles, no matter the cost, and no matter what others think, they are determined to obey and to do it as soon as possible.

I received a letter the other day from Janis Di Paolo. She and husband Michael were active members of the Centerville Road congregation in Tallahassee for many years. When Michael accepted a new job a couple of years ago, they moved to Fort Worth, Texas. Of no surprise to those who knew them, they are still faithful and active in the church there — Michael serving as a deacon there as he had here.

In her letter, Janis told of the conversion of a woman to Christ and the circumstances surrounding it. Her letter brought a smile to my face, a warmth to my heart and a prayer of thanksgiving to my lips. I would like to share a portion of it with you because I think it will do the same for you. Also, maybe it will serve as an impetus to the one who is allowing something to postpone his/her baptism.

“I want to say thank you again for the copies of the study for new Christians which you wrote. I just finished a class with a new sister in Christ who repeatedly told me how much the study helped her. She said it filled in all the ‘missing pieces’ about the work and worship of the church. Just thought I’d let you know that your study book has touched another life!

“I also wanted to tell you a little about this sister. Her story is one that bears repeating, especially to anybody who has reservations about being baptized. This lady’s name is Virginia. She is 55 years old and was at one time a Baptist. (It’s another long story to tell you how she came in touch with the truth.) Virginia suffers from many serious health problems. She has heart problems, diabetes, circulatory problems, a 100-pound inoperable abdominal tumor, and she’s on oxygen 24-hours a day and is wheelchair- bound. Several ladies from our congregation studied with Virginia over several months and finally the day came when Virginia knew she needed to obey the gospel.

“Baptizing Virginia presented a problem since she was physically unable to climb the baptistry steps. Michael and I were asked if our pool could be used since Virginia could be wheeled to the edge of the water and then lowered down the steps. So, on a Sunday night after services, several Christians gathered in our backyard while Virginia was baptized. Her attending nurse told her that going under the cold water could send her into shock and lead to cardiac arrest. That didn’t stop Virginia. She was determined to trust the Lord to help her be obedient. It took three men and two women to help her into the water (with her son holding her portable oxygen tank above the water). She was so scared she was shaking continuously. It took about 30 minutes in the water for her to get the courage to go all the way under (which required momentarily unhooking her oxygen). “During this time, we all prayed and sang the chorus to ‘Trust and Obey’ about 20 times (!) to encourage her. When Virginia finally got the courage to put her head under the water, she came up from the water estatic that she had obeyed the Lord. She has been a Christian for several months now and is still ‘beaming’ about being one of His children. She says she finally has confidence about her salvation. To me she is an inspiration to anyone who is hesitant about baptism. She overcame so many physical obstacles in order to be obedient.”

Janis’ observation that Virginia “came up from the water estatic that she had obeyed the Lord” shows how similar her baptism was to that of the Ethiopian who, after being baptized, “went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39). Such joy is characteristic of all who put on Christ in baptism because they know their sins are forgiven by the blood of our Lord.

If you know you need to be baptized, what hinders you? There is nothing in this life more important for you to do than to give obedience to the gospel and be baptized for the remission of your sins. You should not let anything stand in your way.

Let the man from Ethiopia and Virginia serve as your examples. Experience the joy both of them felt upon knowing their sins had been forgiven and that they had been added to the body of Christ (Acts 2:47). Cast aside anything that hinders your obedience to the Son of God. Obey Jesus Christ and His gospel now.

The Reality Of Hell

In Matthew 25:31-46 the Bible teaches that at the final judgment while the righteous will enter heaven to enjoy everlasting life, the wicked will go into eternal punishment. The thought of everlasting suffering is repulsive to many. No doubt this aversion lies at the bottom of much of the unbelief to what the Bible teaches about hell.

Hell, despite the denials of many, is real. Sin demands it. Sin is a violation of the law of God (1 John 3:4). If there were no punishment for sin, then there could be no law for law without penalty is null and void. If there is no law, there would be no sin. That would make the death of Jesus useless because if there is no sin there is no responsibility to save anyone from it.

The reality of life after death also demands the reality of hell. Jesus taught, in Matthew 22:23-33, that there was life after physical death. In the account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), two distinct destinies are presented: comfort for the righteous but punishment for the wicked.

Hell was originally prepared for Satan and his angels (Matt. 25:41). Jude 6 states that fallen angels are placed in chains awaiting judgment. Yet, when men and women join the devil in his work and live in servitude to him, they must suffer the same fate that will befall him.

Hell Not Contrary To The Nature of God

Many people find it difficult to accept the reality of hell because they cannot believe that a loving and merciful God could create such a place. But hell is not contrary to the nature of God. If no punishment were given for violation of His law, then God would not be just. Being a just God, He will reward the righteous and punish the wicked. Hell is to punish the wicked.

What Hell Is Like

Hell is eternal. It is described that way in Matthew 25:46. In Romans 16:26 God is said to be eternal. The Holy Spirit, in Hebrews 9:14, is also described as eternal. The same word in the Greek language in which the New Testament was originally written was used in all three of these passages. The word means eternal, everlasting, without end, never to cease. Hell and the punishment meted out there will last as long as God forever.

Hell is a place of darkness. Jude 13 speaks of “the blackness of darkness” to which false teachers will be confined forever. God is light (1 John 1:5) and the Father of lights (Jas. 1:17). Hell is described as darkness because it is the place farthest removed from God. There will be no God to listen to pleas for mercy or give hope of release.

Hell is a place of fire. Matthew 13:42 speaks of it as a furnace of fire. Matthew 25:41 calls it an everlasting fire. Mark 9:44-45 says the fire is never quenched. Revelation 21:8 refers to it as the lake of fire. There will be no relief from its fires because Revelation 14:11 says the smoke from the fires of torment ascends forever and ever.

There is no rest there. Revelation 14:11 says the wicked will have no rest from their torment day or night.

As there is no rest, there will be no relief. The rich man in Luke 16, even while awaiting the final judgment in Tartarus, wanted a drop of water to cool his tormented tongue but he did not get it.

Who Will Go There

As already noted, Satan and his angels will be there (Matt. 25:41). Revelation 21:8 says the “cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars” will be there. Those who do not know God and those who will not obey the gospel of Christ will be punished with everlasting destruction (2 Thes. 1:7-9). In short, all sinners who choose to remain in their sin will be found in hell.

Why People Will Go There

God desires that all be saved (1 Tim. 2:1-4). God is all-powerful and the gospel, His power to save (Rom. 1:16), can save to the uttermost. People will not be in hell because God will not save them. God sent His Son into the world so that all might have salvation (John 3:16) and He has extended His invitation to all who would come to Him (Matt. 11:28-30; Rev. 22:17).

If a person ends up in hell, he is lost by his own free choice. He has no one to blame but himself. Many see no need to be interested in spiritual things and are indifferent to the pleas of the gospel. Others refuse to obey the gospel or submit to the will of God. Some refuse to believe. Others just love sin more than righteousness. Some become unfaithful in service. Many put off obeying until it is too late.

Conclusion

Hell is real. The suffering of it is waiting for the sinful. You can escape the torments found there by giving obedience to Christ now. He will wash away the guilt of your sins and grant you hope of a life of eternal bliss in His presence.