Saturday, August 30, 2008

Baptism: It is all about certainty.

How to know you are a child of God? That is the question on many minds. Much of the holy Christian church teach that either through good works or some other peering at oneself one can tell if he or she belongs to Jesus. That is dreadful because we are such dismal failures in all we think, say or do. We will either overestimate or underestimate that which we see in ourselves. In fact that sin is one turned in on oneself. So it is highly doubtful that God would want us to check ourselves out for assurance. In a recent Issues Etc. the point was made by Pastor Todd Wilkin that baptism is all about certainty.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.

21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. ESV

Since we are unable to go back in time to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus he has instituted the sacrament of baptism in order to know we have the forgiveness of sins. This is upsetting to many who insist that baptism is nothing more than getting wet for Jesus. However, God created water and is quite comfortable using it to deliver the earth from sin as well as those who receive this gift.

Many complain that it is false comfort to look at baptism for assurance. That many will go to hell thinking they are saved which are actually lost. This is not understanding that those who do not believe are the ones under condemnation. If a person does not trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus the baptism does him no good. Neither would a wonderful law/gospel sermon. It would unfortunately fall on deaf ears although faith comes by hearing the words of Christ most definitely.

Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. ESV

In the name of Jesus. Amen. †

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Things are useful and some are needful in this life. However, it is so easy to find oneself not owning things but rather being owned by them. Advertisers vie with each other proclaiming to have a complete and orderly life one must have their brand of trinket, gadget or soothing liquid. This is slavery of the most pernicious kind. Our adversary uses this to occupy our hearts and minds instead of what is permanent, undefiled and does not waste away.

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you ESV

The trinkets go out of style. The gadgets break or are stolen. The soothing liquid is used up or goes stale and has to be replaced. These results will take the Christian’s eyes off Jesus and our inheritance and place them on the temporary and passing away world and its delights. What becomes of this during times of either personal or national economic upheavals? We become weary and defiled with these items and the seeking for more.

Jesus, when on earth, had no possessions standing in his way of loving God with his whole heart. He was not here for the purpose of accumulating things. We are not here for that purpose either. We of course cannot do that for we are not perfect humans much less God. How wonderful that we have his robe of righteousness dressing us so that we are credited with the following:

Matthew 6:19 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ESV

Our goal and motivation are clear in this section. As stated before we are incapable of divorcing ourselves from coveting luxury. There is no one so devoted to Jesus that he or she cannot be soiled by worldly prosperity. Here again is ample evidence that we never out grow our need for our crucified Lord.

Grant us repentance Lord and renewed faith and trust in your will and provision. In the name of Jesus. Amen †

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hope Alive!

Many will think of the resurrection of Jesus and its benefits for us to be only in the future. Sometime after we die we will be raised again to spend eternity praising and serving God. While it is true that we will enjoy an eternity with God in his heavenly realm this resurrection also gives us benefits in the here and now.

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead ESV

We are born again to a living hope. Hope in these days is kind of a weasel word. People will say “I hope it is a nice day for our picnic.” “Wow I hope that it rains today.” No this hope is associated with the strong and sure promises purchased by the God/man for us by his resurrection. We are born again into a new family. We appear before God as precious children in whom he delights. We are no longer under the law’s condemnation. There is no threats or vexation it can do to us. Our Father is no longer filled with wrath toward us. But he is indeed our dear Father and we his dear children in Christ.
We do not behold these blessings in fulness. This is why it is our living hope. The fulness is ours when Jesus returns to put an end to all this foolishness we endure day in and out. This is not at all on the account of anything we have done but rather because of his great mercy. Mercy which caused Jesus to become our new head, a righteous head, who gives us his righteousness. We can reflect on our baptism and go forth in resurrected assurance to face our day.

In the name of Jesus. Amen †

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pillows or Bricks?

For one to be chose by God is one of the most comforting doctrines in Christianity. The fact that the child of God has been chosen and adopted. The difficulty arises when this doctrine is supplemented by trying to fill in the blanks left by God. This blank refers to those who reject the gift of eternal life.

1 Peter 1:1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. ESV

In this section St Peter states those chosen by God are chosen in the being made holy by the Spirit, by which we obey Jesus and are sprinkled with his blood. This verse says nothing about one who does not believe being chosen by God to die eternally separated from His goodness.

To fill in this blank with submitting scripture to Reason takes the pillow of comfort out of the pillow case and fill it with bricks. Then will proceed to bash another person in the head with it by casting doubt at the other person's faith. If God set about choosing some for heaven and others for hell He would have given a way for one to tell which group he or she was in. John 3:18 states that one is condemned for not believing in Jesus. If double predestination were true no one can ever know in this life his or her standing with God.

No it is better to leave the blanks left by God blank and therefore have grace and peace be multiplied to us.

In the Name of Jesus. Amen †

Friday, August 8, 2008

Baptism: Whose Work is it?

Is Baptism Our Symbolic Work for God or God’s Powerful Work for Us?

By Dr. Richard P. Bucher

Does baptism do anything? Does it effect and work salvation in the one being baptized? Or does it simply symbolize the salvation, new birth, forgiveness, etc., already given by faith. Put another way, is it a "means of grace" or the confirmation of grace already given and received by faith?
Below I've listed the key New Testament passages on baptism. Read them with the above questions in mind. In these passages, do the New Testament authors attribute to baptism the power to save? Or do they speak of baptism as a rite which only symbolizes what has already occurred?

What it comes it down to is this: Either baptism is our work for God or it is God's work for us. Either it is something that we do out of obedience to God, which in itself gives nothing; or it is something that God works in us, which gives everything - salvation, new life, and entrance into the kingdom. The Scriptural evidence follows. You decide!

Matthew 28:19-20a -- Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Note: Most agree that in this passage "teaching" is a means of making disciples of all nations, that the ongoing work of making disciples takes place by the agency of teaching. However, if this is true for teaching, grammatically it should also be true of baptizing. For in the Greek, didaskontes, "teaching," not only has the exact same construction as baptizontes, "baptizing" (nominative, plural, present, active, participles), but both words are antecedents of the verb matheteusate, "make disciples;" both verbs are grammatically coordinate:
"Having gone, therefore, make disciples of all nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and by teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

Mark 16:15-16 -- He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

John 3:5-6 -- Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit

Acts 2:38-39 -- Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call."

Acts 22:16 -- And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.

Romans 6:3-8 -- Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

1 Corinthians 6:11 -- And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 -- The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Galatians 3:26-28 -- You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 5:25-27 -- Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

Colossians 2:11-12 -- In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

Titus 3:5-7 -- he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Hebrews 10:22 -- let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

1 Peter 3:20b-21-- In it [Noah's ark] only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ [see Romans 6:3-4].

According to these verses, baptism:

makes disciples (Mt. 28:19)

saves (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21)

brings forgiveness/washes away sin/cleanses/takes away guilt (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 10:22)

causes us to be born again (John 3:5; Titus 3:5)

crucifies the old man, buries him, and causes the baptized one to be raised up as a new creation of God (Romans 6:3-6; Colossians 2:11-12)

makes us members of Christ's body (1 Corinthians 12:13)

gives us the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Titus 3:5-6)

clothes us with Christ (puts on His righteousness!) (Galatians 3:27)

On the basis of these strong words of Scripture, we Lutherans have become convinced that baptism is God's powerful work by which the Holy Spirit accomplishes salvation in us. How sad, then, when baptism is turned into a pitiful work of obedience that we do for God, a work that does nothing but only symbolizes what has already taken place. How sadder still, when baptism is completely thrown aside and "dedication," which is nothing but man-made piety, is substituted. It is certainly true that often adults are converted by faith in the Gospel before they are baptized. But there is also no getting around this Scriptural evidence, that baptism is a powerful means of grace in which God (not us) works wonders. In baptism, God is the giver and we are to be the receiver (through faith).

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Case for Infant Baptism

Why We Baptize Babies (The Case for Infant Baptism)

By Dr. Richard P. Bucher

Should we baptize babies? The Christian Church continues to be sharply divided over this important question. Those who answer "yes" (Lutherans, Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, etc.) claim Biblical support for their position. Those who answer "no" (Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, many "Bible" or "evangelical," or "non-denominational" churches) say the Bible is on their side. The pro-infant baptism churches assert that Christ commanded infant baptism. The opposing side asserts that nowhere is such a thing commanded. They hold that at best it is useless and at worst harmful. It is their practice to rebaptize adults who were baptized as babies.

The Lutheran Church has always taught that baptism is for everyone, including infants. We believe that Jesus wants babies to be baptized. We do so for the following reasons.

I - Christ Has Commanded Us

Many raise the objection: "There is not a single example of infant baptism in the New Testament, nor is there any command to do so. Therefore Christians should not baptize babies."
But Jesus has commanded infant baptism. In Matthew 28:19 He says, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit . . .." Before He ascended, the Lord of the Church commanded us to baptize "all nations," a phrase the Church has always understood to mean "everyone." Matthew 25:31-32 also uses the phrase "all nations" in this way. All nations are to be baptized, regardless of race, color, sex, age, class, or education. Jesus makes no exceptions. He doesn't say, "Baptize all nations except . . .." Everyone is to be baptized, including infants. If we say that babies are not to be included in Christ's Great Commission, then where will it stop? What other people will we exclude?

It is true that there is no example in Scripture of a baby being baptized. However, to conclude from this that babies are not to be baptized is absurd. Neither are there any specific examples of the elderly being baptized, or teenagers, or little children. Instead we read about men (Acts 2:41; 8:35) women (Acts 16:14-15), and entire households being baptized (Acts 10:24,47-48; 16:14-15; 16:30-33; 1 Co. 1:16). The authors of the New Testament documents didn't feel compelled to give examples of every age group or category being baptized. Why should they have? Certainly they understood that "all nations" is all-inclusive.

II - Babies Need Forgiveness

The Bible teaches that infants are born sinful and are in need of forgiveness. Scripture says nothing about an "Age of Accountability" that begins at the age of reason. Its message is that accountability begins at conception. David confesses in Psalm 51:5, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." The Bible teaches original sin, that the corruption and guilt of Adam's sin is passed on to every human being at conception. Jesus affirms this teaching when He says, "Flesh gives birth to flesh" (John 3:5). Paul takes it up in Romans 5:18: "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.

Furthermore, Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; he who believes not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16). According to Jesus, ANYONE who does not believe in Him will be damned. Jesus makes no exception for infants. Babies will not be saved without faith in Jesus. Parents who think they are placing their children under God's grace by "dedicating" them are deceiving themselves. The only dedication that the New Testament knows of is the "dedication" that take place via baptism. That is why infants should be baptized. Like everyone else, they desperately need forgiveness. If infants die before they believe in Jesus, they will be eternally condemned. They, like everyone else, need to be baptized so that they can be born again. Jesus said, "unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). We believe that baptism is God's special means of grace for children by which He causes them to be born again. To keep them from baptism is to keep them from forgiveness and to endanger them with damnation.

III - Baptism Replaces Circumcision

God's covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17:10-14) demanded that every male child was to be circumcised when eight days old. By circumcision, the baby entered into a covenant relationship with the true God.

St. Paul teaches us that in the New Testament baptism has replaced circumcision. "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism . . ." (Col. 2:11-12).
Given this fact, it would have been natural for first century Jewish believers to baptize infants, since they were accustomed to circumcise their male children at eight days old. It is also logical that if God regarded eight day old male babies as members of His covenant people through circumcision, He will also regard newborn babies to be members of His kingdom through baptism, the "circumcision made without hands."

IV - Infants Can Believe

The most frequent objection to infant baptism is that babies cannot believe. They do not, says the objection, have the intellect necessary to repent and believe in Jesus.

If this is your opinion, Jesus disagrees with you. Luke 18 tells us that certain parents were bringing infants (Greek - brephe) to Jesus, that He might bless them. The disciples rebuked those who brought the babies. Jesus' response is well known: "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it" (Luke 18:15-17). Some have objected that it is "little children" and not infants that Jesus speaks of here. Yet the very little children that the disciples were forbidding were infants. The infants are the focus of the passage. Clearly on this occasion Jesus had babies in mind when He said what He did!

Does this passage speak of infant baptism? No, not directly. It does show that Jesus did not raise the objection that so many do today about babies not being able to believe. According to Jesus, these babies had what it took to be members of the kingdom of God, feeble intellect and all! "Do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God."

Now Jesus does not contradict Himself. The central message of His ministry (the Gospel) was that there was only way to enter God's kingdom. There was only one way to be saved. "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). Repeatedly Christ taught that faith in Him was the one way to become a member of God's kingdom (cf. John 3:16-18). Therefore, when He says about babies, "for of such is the kingdom of God," He is telling us that babies can believe (for how else could they enter the kingdom?!).

So if Jesus maintained that babies can believe (though their faith is very simple), who are we to deny it? And who are we to deny baptism to those who can believe? For those still stumbling over infant faith, remember: it is purely by God's grace that any person, adult or child, can believe. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit as much for the adult as for the child (see John 6:44; 1 Cor. 12:3; Eph. 2:1-4). When the adult believes in Christ it is only because the Holy Spirit, working through the Gospel, has worked the miracle of faith in his heart. So with the infant. If faith, then, is always a miracle, why can we not believe that God would work such miraculous faith in a baby?

Someone might ask, "If babies can believe then why do they need baptism?" Answer: it is through baptism that faith is created in the infant's heart. Baptism, far from being the empty symbolism that many imagine it to be, is the visible Gospel, a powerful means of grace. According to Scripture, baptism "washes away sin" (Acts 22:16), "saves" (1 Peter 3:21; Mark 16:16), causes one to "die to sin, to be buried, and raised up with Christ" (Romans 6:3-4) causes one to be "clothed with Christ" (Galatians 3:27), and to be a member of the body of Christ: "for by one Spirit, were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:13). It bears repeating: baptism is a special means of God's grace by which He gives faith, forgiveness, and salvation to the infant.

V - The Practice of the Early Church

Those who deny infant baptism have a problem. They must explain why the fathers of the Church's first centuries speak of infant baptism as a universal custom. The Fathers is what we now call Pastors who led the Church after the death of the apostles. When we examine the writings of Irenaeus (d. 202), Tertullian (d. 240), Origen (d. 254), Cyprian (d. 258), and Augustine (d. 430), we see that they all spoke of infant baptism as accepted custom (though Tertullian disagreed with it).

Irenaeus remarks, "For He came to save all through means of Himself all, I say, who through Him are born again to God, infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men" (Against Heresies, Book 1, Ch. 22.4).

In his commentary on Romans, Origin writes, "The Church has received from the apostles the custom of administering baptism even to infants. For those who have been entrusted with the secrets of divine mysteries, knew very well that all are tainted with the stain of original sin, which must be washed off by water and spirit" (Romans Commentary, 5.9).

Cyprian writes, "In respect of the case of infants, which you say ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after birth, and that the law of ancient circumcision should be regarded, so that you think that one who is just born should not be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day, we all thought very differently in our council. For in this course which you thought was to be taken, no one agreed; but we all rather judge that the mercy and grace of God is not to be refused to any one born of man... Spiritual circumcision ought not to be hindered by carnal circumcision... we ought to shrink from hindering an infant, who, being lately born, has not sinned, except in that, being born after the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of the ancient death at its earliest birth, who approaches the more easily on this very account to the reception of the forgiveness of sins - that to him are remitted, not his own sins, but the sins of another" (Letter 58 to Fidus).

And in his Enchiridion, Augustine declares, "For from the infant newly born to the old man bent with age, as there is none shut out from baptism, so there is none who in baptism does not die to sin" (Enchiridion; ch. 43).


For completeness sake, I have listed five reasons why Christians should baptize infants. The first reason should have been enough. Jesus has commanded His Church to "make disciples of all nations baptizing them . . .." Christ made no exceptions. Infants are part of all nations, as are every other age group. We do not have to prove this. The burden of proof is on those who deny that infants are to be included in "all nations." To deny the blessing of infant baptism because you can't find the words "infant baptism" in the Bible makes as much sense as rejecting the teaching of the Trinity because you can't find the words "Trinity" or "triune" in the Bible.

As to babies not being of the age of reason and therefore not able to believe, I have shown that Christ disagrees. So in a sense, the teaching of infant baptism reveals who your Lord is. Lord Jesus Christ has commanded us to baptize all nations, has declared that everyone who dies without faith is damned, and has taught us that infants can believe by God's grace working through baptism. Lord Reason says, "I don't understand how a baby can believe, therefore I reject infant baptism. It makes more sense to me to do it my way." Which Lord will you obey? Will you obey Christ and baptize "all nations," including infants, even though you don't understand it? Or will you obey Reason and reject infant baptism because you don't understand how babies can believe? Which Lord will you obey?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Fruit Inspection 3.

Bear fruit or else! That is a common theme from preachers who do not understand the distinction between law and Gospel. Sadly even some who should know this distinction. Perhaps it is born of frustration with seeming inactive, fat and lazy Christians in his congregation. Granted whoever follows Jesus will bear fruit. Jesus said so recorded in John 15. Perhaps an examination of what fruit is and who it is seeing it can shed light in these seeming dark and threatening corners:

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. ESV

What we see is that fruit, rather than works done by the Christian, is actually attitude and motivation by reason of presence of the Holy Spirit. This is contrasted by earlier reference to fruit of the flesh and the warning that those who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. The promise is that those who are inheriting the Kingdom are also not doing the fruit of the flesh. Later we will see who would see that fruit.

However, the natural theologian of glory in each believer will always spot what looks like our activity. Aha, says he, if a believer does not crucify the flesh he or she will not bear fruit. This person will not be living or walking by the Spirit. But the whole action of attempting to prove to him or herself that he or she is bearing fruit aplenty is a desire of the flesh. So how is one’s flesh crucified with its passions and desires?

Romans 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. ESV

It is in our baptism that our flesh is crucified. A baptized Christian is crucified with Christ. This is why we must always remember our baptism each and everyday and especially when times of doubt creep in. These times come when the law approaches us and accuses us. Or we hear an unfortunate sermon by a frustrated pastor can also toss a person into a season of doubt. That is why it is very important to pay close attention to the type of preacher one is listening to. We should listen to only those who draw proper and clear distinctions between what we do and what Jesus has done for us in his life, death, burial and resurrection. That our trust will remain in that which saves us.

Matthew 25:34 Then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? 40 And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. KJV

Now we see who it is that is the real fruit inspector. On the last day those in Christ will have a public pronouncement of that which was purchased for them by Jesus and given to them graciously. Notice the fruit was not even known by those who are blessed in this way. They had no idea they were bearing this fruit. This is why it is vital, as mentioned earlier, we are careful to not listen to a lot of sermons. These unfortunate ramblings will do nothing but cast doubt rather than to encourage us in the promises given to us.

This fruit is not the reason these are entering the Kingdom but rather the evidence. And this evidence is hidden from our eyes because of sin. We carry on our daily rounds with absolutely no hint that fulfilling our tasks each day is fruit pleasing to our Father in heaven. Perhaps it is the best for our flesh surely would seek a way to take credit for these activities.

Now about the fruit of the flesh. God also is the one who inspects that. Rather he sees the lack of fruit of the Spirit in the unbeliever. The unbelievers are told they did not do these things. The unbeliever does not love Jesus so how could he or she do anything for him? Neither does the unbeliver have the Holy Spirit bearing fruit one of which is faith. Perhaps they fed the hungry, clothed the naked and visited people in prison but only out of self motivation. To either feel good about themselves or to impress others. We see that all the time when a rich person will call a conference to announce a large gift to charity or serve in a soup kitchen. He or she has the only reward that will earn. The fleeting recognition from the world until it moves onto something better.

Notice also the word inherit. We inherit the Kingdom we do not earn it. It is ours from before the foundation of the world. How comforting is that? Let us believe this good news and live in the peace that it offers.

In the name of Jesus. †