Reading horizontally (comparing accounts, harmonizing) has the danger of losing the contextual message of the writer, but also offers benefits in comparing the gospels. The gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) were written time, place, and purpose specific but have a message for all time with proper application. It is important to recognize context and cultures while avoiding extremes that do not harmonize with today’s world. Application to our lives must be considered in the culture in which we live, without losing the foundation of teaching presented in a different time and climate, considering each writer is likely speaking to a specific group of first century Christians. Yes, we must read, study and make appropriate application of these gems of the Holy Spirit, to our lives today. … Wayne S.
(Ephesians 4:4-6) There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (KJV)
Holy Spirit “baptism” was promised “only” to the apostles. “until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:2-5 NKJV)
Since Holy Spirit baptism was promised only to the apostles, and never commanded, it is clear that the “one baptism” is the baptism in water, required of every penitent believer in Christ “for the forgiveness of sins”
“Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38 NKJV)
“Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.” (Acts 10:47-48 NKJV)
‘And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.‘ (Acts 22:16 NKJV)
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1-4 NKJV)
“But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:17-18 NKJV)
“In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:11-12 NKJV)
“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27 NKJV)
“The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” (1 Peter 3:21 KJV)
A careful study of these Scriptures shows the “oneness” of this baptism, both in number and spiritual quality. It is the spiritual link of the human response of obedient faith to the sacrifice of Jesus in His blood – both “for the remission of sins”
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38 KJV)
“For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28 KJV)
“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4 NKJV)
Much religious division is caused and maintained by those who twist, ignore, and “reject the counsel of God” regarding this one baptism “into Christ.”
Introduction =Jesus As The Way=
As we begin this series of studies, I would like to start by having you ask yourself several questions:
- Do you have problems?
- Are you confused in things pertaining to life itself?
- Do you feel lost, with a sense of despair?
If you do, don’t feel like you are alone. About the time of Abraham, a person who was experiencing a great deal of suffering said:
Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; He flees like a shadow and does not continue. (Job 14:1-2)
These words, spoken nearly four thousands years ago, express the sentiments of millions today. Now, however, there is a way out: Jesus Christ! As He Himself said:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6)
Yes, to everything that is truly good, both in this life and the one to come, Jesus Christ Is The Way!
In this study, I want to introduce several areas in which Jesus is truly “The Way”. Succeeding lessons will expand upon these themes, but in this lesson I simply wish to whet your appetite. For example, Jesus is…
THE WAY TO A BETTER LIFE
On one occasion, Jesus stated His purpose in coming to this earth:
“…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
This “abundant life” Jesus offers is more than simply life in the “hereafter”. Though He does not promise wealth or luxury, He does assure us of:
- A loving Father in Heaven, Who cares for His children. As Jesus taught in His “Sermon on the Mount”:
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
- More than sufficient provision for those who are willing to follow Him as “The Way”. As we read on another occasion:
So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time; houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)
Therefore, it is not surprising to find that the happiest people in the world are those who have most completely committed themselves to following Jesus as “The Way”. As the apostle Paul wrote, even though he was under house arrest at the time:
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)
And when the apostle Peter wrote to Christians undergoing extreme forms of persecution, he could honestly say:
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, (1 Peter 1:6-8)
Jesus is also…
THE WAY TO FORGIVENESS OF SINS
He is the only solution to a very serious problem…the most serious threat to our well-being that we face: Sin! This is because everyone of us is guilty of sin:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)
And sin is not without its consequences! Often physical, but always spiritual! Unless the problem of sin is resolved, the ultimate consequence is eternity in hell!
But through Jesus Christ, God has made provision for the forgiveness of our sins! Out of love, God offered Jesus as the “propitiation” for our sins:
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)
Through His blood shed on the cross, Jesus provides forgiveness for our sins:
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. (Ephesians 1:7)
After His sacrificial death for us, Jesus explained how those lost in sin could be saved; it involves repentance on our part…
Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:47-48)
It also involves faith and baptism…
“He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mk 16:16)
But to be truly happy, we need more than just the forgiveness of sins; we need to be restored to the close union with God which we lost by our sins.
In this also, Jesus is our answer, for He is…
THE WAY TO GOD
Many religions, claiming to be Christian, are almost totally silent about the new relationship Jesus provides with God, the Father. About all they seem to talk about is “Jesus, Jesus, etc.” or “Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit, etc.” Could this indicate a lack of real understanding of Jesus’ purpose?
Jesus came to this world to reconcile man back to God the Father. As Paul told the Corinthians:
Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)
As we have already noted, Jesus claimed to be the only way to the Father:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
Why emphasize this point? Because one does not truly experience what it means to have “eternal life” without having an intimate relation- ship with the Father, as well as with the Son. And this is exactly what Jesus has to offer us! As He mentioned in His prayer before His trial and crucifixion:
Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:1-3)
Yes, that “eternal life” Jesus offers to us includes “knowing” the Father as well as the Son!
The way to a better life, the way to forgiveness of sins, the way to God…what wonderful blessings! But there is more. Jesus is also…
THE WAY OUT OF RELIGIOUS CONFUSION
Consider the plight of many who wish to follow Jesus. They are confused and even repelled by the multitude of different churches and conflicting doctrines being offered by those who profess to be His church.
But one does not have to be a part of this confusion! Jesus Himself certainly does not approve it. He taught us that:
“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” (Matthew 12:25)
Before His betrayal and arrest, we find Jesus praying fervently…
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23)
How can we even begin to hope to have this unity of which Jesus spoke? It helps to remember that Jesus promised to build HIS church:
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
Despite the efforts of man and Satan to destroy it, or otherwise change it, they shall not prevail! Even today, when someone obeys the words of Jesus Christ, they are added by the Lord Himself to His church:
…praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47)
In His church, we can enjoy the unity of which Paul wrote to the Ephesians…
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
But finding His church and enjoying this unity is experienced only as we follow Jesus as the way out of religious confusion.
Finally, let me point out that Jesus is…
THE WAY TO ETERNAL LIFE
Death is inevitable (unless Jesus returns first), and as the author of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote, it is followed by judgment:
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, (Hebrews 9:27)
In this way, death becomes the door, either to eternal life or to eternal condemnation. In His description of the Judgment scene, Jesus outlines only two alternatives…
“And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46)
To die in Jesus is to die in the way to life eternal! As the apostle John wrote in the book of Revelation:
Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)
Yet another wonderful blessing in following Jesus as “The Way”, to find that He is the way to eternal life!
I hope that I have sparked your interest in wanting to learn more about Jesus as “The Way”. As I mentioned at the outset of this study, the other lessons will elaborate upon these great blessings provided only through Jesus.
My purpose in this series is two-fold…
- For those who are Christians, to increase their appreciation of Jesus as their Lord and Savior, so they will want to serve Him with greater zeal;
- For those who are not Christians, to encourage them to let Jesus be their way to everything that is truly good, both in this life and in the life to come!
Questions To Stimulate Your Thinking…
What does Jesus expect of those who call Him “Lord”? (Luke 6:46)
To do the things which He says.
What does Paul claim about the things that he wrote? (1 Corinthians 14:37)
They were the commandments of the Lord.
To whom did Jesus promise the necessities of life? (Matthew 6:33)
Those who seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Through what do we have redemption? (Ephesians 1:7)
The blood of Jesus.
What did Jesus say should be preached in His name to all nations? (Luke 24:47)
Repentance and remission of sins.
What did Jesus say one must do to be saved? (Mark 16:16)
Believe and be baptized.
Can Muslims, Buddhists, or any others reach God without Jesus? (John 14:6)
Whom did the Lord add to His church in Jerusalem? (Acts 2:47)
Those who were being saved.
How many baptisms does God now recognize? (Ephesians 4:5)
Who are blessed when they die? (Revelations 14:13) Those who die in the Lord.
This is one of a short lesson series presented by brother Mark Copeland.
Note: The lessons are based on a Bible correspondence course entitled
“Jesus, The Way”, by brother Sewell Hall.