Biserica din Om

Biblical exegesis

 

Knowledge puffs up, while love builds up

 

Gabriel Baicu

11. 03.  2013

    

Although the existence of a single Church of God is a fact well demonstrated in the Bible, we can not accept the principle of the uniqueness of the Church of God if we don’t accept the validity of the water baptism of the young children. Why? This is because, otherwise, we have to ask all Christians to be baptized at maturity, and where, most likely, that this does not happen, many Orthodox Christians and not only would remain on the outside. If our own salvation through faith is a gift from God, what right have anyone  to judge whether a person is saved or not, regardless of the age when the water baptism took place, as long as that person has personal faith in God? Salvation comes not from the correctness or accuracy of a doctrine or another but because we have genuine love for God and people. (Mathew 22; 36-40) All knowledge is partial. (1 Corinthians 13; 9) We can safely err on the timing of baptism in water, childhood or adulthood and that depends mainly on how we were taught to believe. Quite a few people have formed their own conviction, based on their thorough study of the Bible, theology and Christian history. Most Christians have adopted the doctrines of the institutional Churches and their traditions, in which they were born. However, we are not allowed to make mistakes in terms of the fact of being born of God, in order to see or to enter the Kingdom of God. (John 3, 3.5) We can err in our theoretical, dogmatic or doctrinal views about God and all does it, but we can not be saved without loving God and our neighbour.   

  If we do not have love we are nothing, but if we love God and neighbour, mercy overcomes judgment. (James 2: 13) The judgment is without mercy to one who had no mercy but who loves and has mercy win the final judgment. Our salvation is through faith and love and not through religious dogmas. Who really fully knows, dogmatically or ontologically, God? Who claims to understand the infinite? We can know God only when we know, through personal similar experience, what He lived on the cross, when we think the same thoughts as Jesus thought and only when we live similar experiences as Jesus has lived. What we share with God is the experience of the cross, to His cross and our daily cross. Jesus took our cross and we must take His cross. This magnificent love for us lifts us up to the level that we can understand the essence of God and this is a defining feature of Jesus’ teachings. God is love. (1 John 4, 8) Man also must be love, refined spiritual and intellectual love. Doctrines are a trap, when we pride ourselves to know what we only partially know. (1 Corinthians 13; 9) Knowledge puffs up, while love builds up. Who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. (1 Corinthians 8, 1-2) We have always to tend to intellectual knowledge, but we ought to have love. We should have full knowledge of Jesus’ spiritual love.

Pride to be right in terms of doctrines, is the most common form of sin and least acknowledged among Christians. Set on the second plan the doctrines and do what is most important, namely justice, mercy and faithfulness that we have to do, as a priority, all others are secondary. (Matthew 23, 23) In other words, some people firmly believe that water baptism of children is wrong and that what they have in addition to other Christians is that they are baptized into adulthood. This is their opinion and this article will not argue. On the other hand, Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Protestants and Reformed believe, with the same conviction, that there is nothing wrong with the water baptism of young children and that this does not prevent them from being saved. What to do? Who is actually right? Personally I say that it is very difficult to determine because it is a theological discussion, extremely complex. The Bible is not absolutely clear, should be interpreted. Some Christians, taking Christ’s experience as a model in this case, consider an argument for the adulthood water baptism that Jesus wasn’t baptized as a child. Do not forget that there wasn’t any water baptism when Jesus was a child. Jesus was circumcised when he was a child and this is a somewhat similar ritual of Christian baptism in water. To enter among the Hebrew people, the circumcision was obligatory. For Christians the water baptism is the entry among God's people, but not yet the entrance in the true Church of God. We enter into the unique Church of God, following the process of the new birth, coming from God and because we are to be born again, not only from water, but also from the Spirit of God. To be born from Spirit means to be born again. (John 3; 3-6)

 The main mission of Jesus was salvation of man and not water baptism. He did not come to earth primarily to teach us to be baptized in water, but to give us faith in God and teach us to love one another as He loved us. (John 13, 34-35) We can not see whether or not we are truly Christians, through the respect for the doctrine which we joined and we profess, but we are truly Christians if we love one another as Jesus loved us. Surely is easier to believe that we are saved by the fact that we were baptized into adulthood, but notice, if we believe that was our merit to do that, it means that we are not saved by Jesus’ merits but by our merits. Here I see a great contradiction in doctrines. We are told that water baptism is related to judgment and of course it is our personal decision, so if we chose to be baptized in adulthood, thus we took the right saving decision, so "we do" the right thing. Does this mean that we have any merit because we chose to be baptized in water at maturity? The focus, in terms of salvation, should not fall on our decision but God's choice of us. (John 6, 44; Romans 8; 29)

 Who can really resist when he or she hears the call of eternity? No one called personally by Jesus, could resist his calling. We have the example of His disciples, and we are His disciples. Why we pride ourselves with something so I got? (1 Corinthians 4, 7) And if others have received the faith of Christ, as they were already baptized in water, as children, why are they worse than us? We are therefore not saved by our merits, or by choosing a doctrine, which we consider correct. This can help us and point us in our life of faith, but we have no right to judge others about what can help them in their life of faith. Therefore, we are entitled to assume that a certain doctrine is best for us, but others have the right to believe the same thing about another doctrine. Nevertheless, the best doctrine is to have the same thoughts and the same heart as Christ. All theoretical knowledge about God is relative and progressive and will be fulfilled only when we will see Him. (1 Corinthians 13; 12) The knowledge of the sacrificial love of God can be best known, through experience, now, on this earth, where many need our love.                                                      

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Content of messages

Model of the first Christian communities (12. 03. 2013)  The distinction between institutional and non institutional Christianity, consists in the fact that, in the early Christian Church, the spiritual element was more present than the institutional one. It was a time when the institution was not there, it only started to be formed gradually. The Christians were persecuted and their communities were based on the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit, rather than on the exegesis of the written texts of the canonic Bible. There was a risk being Christian. I refer to the risk of martyrdom. During the apostles’ era, only people truly called by God came to God. ... (read more!) Knowledge puffs up, while love builds up (12. 03. 2013)  Although the existence of a single Church of God is a fact well demonstrated in the Bible, we can not accept the principle of the uniqueness of the Church of God if we don’t accept the validity of the water baptism of the young children. Why? This is because, otherwise, we have to ask all Christians to be baptized at maturity, and where, most likely, that this does not happen, many Orthodox Christians and not only would remain on the outside. If our own salvation through faith is a gift from God, what right have anyone to judge whether a person is saved or not, regardless of the age when the water baptism took place, as long as that person has personal faith in God? ... (read more!) Faith without love is dead (12. 03. 2013)  Jesus died for us on the cross. What does this mean? He sacrificed Himself voluntarily for us and for our benefit. What for? This is the big question: What we gain from His sacrifice? We gain a justification, a grace, not depending on us, but which becomes effective for us when we believe in this grace. From this point of view, grace is universal in that it applies to all those who believe in God. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." (John 3, 16 NRSV) In other words, we have access by faith to God, free and guaranteed full access. This access does not mean automatically that all they have it is using it correctly. The gift of God is dependent on our faith, but we have to receive correctly what we are given ... (read more!) It is more blessed to give than to receive (12. 03. 2013)  What kind of God do we have? It is one who believes that "giving" is more satisfying than “receiving.” (Acts 20: 35) From this we can draw many conclusions. Firstly, the image that God is an absolute master, requiring blind obedience from us, proves, once again, to be a false one. God does not expect us to give him anything, but he wants to give us its treasures of wisdom and knowledge. God needs people who know how to accept and appreciate what they get. The heavenly Father is not a selfish Person who expects us to give him glory, praise and other forms of recognition that they produce complacency. ... (read more!) Turning to Christ (12. 03. 2013)  I advocate a return to Christ, not only to the Bible, not just to the first Christian communities, the so-called apostolic Church. Why? I found that it takes a continuation of the Reformation, a New Reformation even, in order to deepen what others, in the past have started. Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and others reacted correctly to the development of Christianity in its almost one and a half millennia of history. The problem is not how far they went with their Reformation, but from where they started it. In the mean-time almost another half millennia passed away and many things have changed in the way that humanity perceives the possibility of the existence of God and the right approach to Him, but most importantly in the interpretation of the biblical texts ... (read more!) Born from above or sinners (12. 03. 2013)  No man on earth can stop sinning as long as it is still motivated by his human nature. Why? This is because every man is a sinner in God's sight precisely because of his human nature. Sin dwells in us, in our genes, in our most profound structure. I don’t refer here to facts considered criminal or offensive by the society, which are also sins in God’s eyes, because all this can be prevented by education. There are many citizens all over the world, who never performed any crimes or offences, in their entire life. Nevertheless, this time I want to speak about the interior movements of any human being and to the visible sins. Hard to be seen from the outside, some sins, such as: malice, hypocrisy, envy, greed, indifference, selfishness etc. ... (read more!) Looking for the true Church of God (07. 10. 2012)  In the context of the existence of so many Christian denominations the question about the true Church of God is entirely justified. Each and every Church presents us with the claim that it is the true Church of God and that its doctrine is the correct one and maintains that all other Christian doctrines are marred by mistakes. It is understandable that the universal spiritual experience of Christianity is mirrored by the cultural traditions of the receivers and that these traditions leave their marks on the particular mode of expression of faith. The forms of expression of Christianity in Brasilia, in Siberia, in Africa or in North Europe are not the same. The way I approach the subject is not so much influenced by this acknowledgement, because I am not concerned primarily by the modes of manifestation, individualised by cultural expressions, of the Christian movement. I am mostly concerned with the doctrinal differences of diverse Christian denominations, inscribed in their doctrines and dogmas and which differentiates them. The acceptance of certain specificities doesn’t affect the unity of Christianity if there is an accord on the principle of the imperfection of human knowledge, concerning the issues of faith. There are two kinds of unity, spiritual unity and institutional unity. ... (read more!) Is the Church One or many? (Part I.) (07. 10. 2012) The unity of the True Church of God is not only a past or future event, it is a present, and actual reality. This is one of the best demonstrate teachings, in the New Testament, but also one of the most neglected. Why is so neglected? Because many see a possible threat to the stability of the religious institutions, and prefer not to speak at all about that. What are then the biblical foundations for the thesis that, in the present time, there is in fact One true Church of God, and many religious institutions? The whole development starts with the text existent in the gospel of John, chapter 17, where we learn that, before being crucified, Jesus prayed to the Father that all Christians to be one. I have to say that there are at least 15 years that I maintain that this is a very important set of teachings, ... (read more!) Is the Church One or many? (Part II.) (03. 11. 2012) The relationships which binds together the born again Christians, from all over the world, and all times, it is not a conventional or organizational one, in the sense of the religious organizations or institutions, it is not even a connection based on the same cultural values. I will try to describe this relationship through an analogy. Let’s say that a very influent, and reach person organizes a party. The reach person knows many people, but the guests themselves don’t know each other, at least not all of them. All the guests will arrive at a certain point to know each other, when the party will be on, but this was possible by the initiative of the influent person, not by the actions or decisions taken by the guests themselves. Something similar happens with the Church of God. We don’t know each other, but Jesus knows every one of us. ... (read more!) Real Christianity and New Reformation (part 1) (11. 11. 2012) This reform involves replacing institutional authority with the principle of Christian love which is the exact opposite of this type of authority, enjoyed by institutional churches. In other words, religious institutions, as such, will not disappear but will be counted in, more and more, as a secondary factor for human salvation. The main factor is very God, direct and personal relationship with Him and He shall occupy the chief place in the life of the believer and not institutional churches. Church is not an intermediary between man and God. The true Church of God is constituted by all the saved and all individuals are firstly saved, than members of the true Church of God, and not the other way around. The path to salvation is Christ, but not only as a mean but also as a purpose. In order to be saved, one has to be like Christ, willing to live and to die for the ‘other.’ The church is not giving us salvation, but Christ, who lives in us, leads us to His only Church and gives us salvation. ... (read more!) Religious intolerance in Christianity (11. 11. 2012) I can not say, with absolute certainty that the best option for water baptism is the child or the adult, but I can safely say that we must respect the beliefs of everyone in this and in all other aspects of spiritual life. Christian faith is based on their beliefs and not "absolute truths." Certainly any Christian believes that Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life, for them, that is a truth with absolute value. But I do mean to relative doctrinal truths that claim to be "absolute truths." Latter does not exist and everyone who says that he or she has such "absolute truths" lies. In the Bible, in Mark 16 to 16, says that he who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the text does not exist in the first manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark and hence in the original manuscripts, after which, receive copies were made. The original text of the Gospel of Mark was lost. As there are no other NT texts to confirm that Jesus said these words, those in Mark 16 to 16 must be put in question. We know we have to go through water baptism, but to be honest, outside our inauthentic text of the Gospel of Mark 16; 16, we have no Biblical basis requiring firmly the principle that water baptism of adults is the norm. ... (read more!)

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