Recently, I was reading through the twenty-second chapter of Luke’s Gospel and what caught my attention was the way in which Satan continued to have his way with Judas. Take a moment and read Luke 22:1-6.
Luke says in verse 3 that “Satan entered Judas.”That phrase could mean many things, but I think its safe to say Satan began to sway and lead Judas at this critical point. Judas’ engagement with Satan begins with initiation, whereby Judas being led by Satan goes to the Chief Priests and hatches this plan, but then it moves from initiation to continual cooperation because in John’s Gospel, the Apostle John says after the Passover dinner, Satan enters Judas again (Jn. 13:27) and Judas leaves the room, apparently to tell the Chief Priests and the Pharisee’s where Jesus was going to be later that evening so they could arrest Him. So what began with initiation has led to continual cooperation, and then transitions to culmination, where the evil intention is acted upon. In Judas’ case the culmination was sealed with a kiss, when he handed Jesus over to the soldiers.
Track the progression! It begins with initiation, moves to continual cooperation, ends with culmination, and results in damnation: After betraying the Lord Jesus, Judas feels remorse for his act and punishes himself by committing suicide, and in Acts 1, the Apostle Peter says, “Judas left to go where he belongs” which is a euphemism for Hell. Judas went to hell not because he committed suicide but because he never at any point in his relationship with the Lord repented and allowed the Lord to actually be the Lord of his life.
Now please consider Judas’ life: Judas heard Jesus teachings’ for over 3 years, he witnessed the many miracles Jesus did during that time, he associated with the people of God on a regular basis, and yet given all of that, he never trusted Jesus as Lord (Jn. 6:64; 70).
Maybe you’re reading this and you’ve had the privilege of hearing the Gospel preached week in and week out, you’ve seen the Lord work powerfully in others’ lives and you’ve benefited from being in relationship to the people of God, but you’ve never personally trusted Jesus as the Lord of your life. If that’s true, let me say this to you: If you don’t yield control of your life over to the Lord Jesus, then at the big, intense, critical moments of life you’ll be swayed and led by spiritual forces that seek to deceive and destroy you, just as Judas was.
The truth is, being in close proximity to the teachings of Jesus, the miracles of Jesus and the people of Jesus is not the same thing as being connected to the Life of Jesus.
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.”
1 Corinthians 11:23-29
When the Apostle Paul wrote these words to the church in Corinth, he described the significance of communion with past, present and future language, and every time we come to the Lord’s Table, we proclaim its three-fold significance.
We see the past significance of the Lord’s Supper clearly by the Lord’s double usage of the phrase, “Do this in remembrance of me.” As we take the bread and the cup we remember His substitutionary death on our behalf. The broken bread symbolizing the Lord’s broken body and the juice representing His blood. As we hold these material elements we remember that God became a man, willingly went to the Cross in our place, for our sin, where His body was broken and His blood was spilt so that our sins can be forgiven and we can be reconciled to God.
Communion also has a present significance. Paul writes, “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves” (1 Cor. 11:28-29). Therefore, communion is an occasion for examining our lives and hearts before God in light of our profession of His death and resurrection. This examination is crucial, because it would be sheer hypocrisy to pretend we are in communion with God while actually harboring and cherishing known sin in our hearts and lives.
Lastly, communion has a future significance. The Apostle Paul said, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Cor. 11:26; emphasis added). During the last meal Jesus shared with His disciples He said to them, “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25). So every time we take communion we are proclaiming our belief in Christ’s resurrection, and at the same time proclaiming our belief in our future physical resurrection, and still yet, proclaiming our belief in the resurrection of the entire material universe at which time we will see Jesus face to face and partake in God’s great banquet (Is. 25:6-9; Rev. 21:1-7). This future significance of communion should cause us to live our lives in light of this future reality and to long for the day when we will be in God’s presence!
So communion anchors us in the past work of God, stabilizes us in the present love of God, and focuses us on the future glory of God. What an honor to share this table!
After His resurrection, Jesus and the Eleven were in Galilee when Jesus commanded baptism in His commission of the disciples: “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” (Matt. 28:19-20). Therefore, all evangelical churches that take Jesus’ words seriously baptize their people, but how it gets done is where the differences are. Some (especially Lutheran, Episcopalian, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches) believe that all infants of believing parents ought to be baptized as they are part of the “covenant community” of God’s people. Some baptize by immersion, others by the sprinkling of water; one group (the Greek Orthodox Church) baptizes their folks three times forward while naked! Don’t worry; we’re not ever going to switch to that practice!
At Mid Valley, we immerse people in water after they have made a conscious decision to repent of their sin, trust in the finished work of Christ (His death and resurrection) and pledge love and loyalty to Jesus Christ as the risen Lord, their Savior (Rom. 10:9-10)!
We practice this mode of baptism for several reasons:
First, the Greek word βαπτίζω (baptizo) literally means to plunge, submerge or immerse. This is the commonly recognized meaning of the term in ancient Greek literature, both inside and outside of the Bible.
Second, the representation of our union in Christ’s death and resurrection is best expressed through immersion. The Apostle Paul writes, “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” (Rom. 6:3-4). As one theologian wrote, “One can hardly deny that baptism carried out as immersion—as it was in the West until well into the Middle Ages—showed what was represented in far more expressive fashion than did the affusion (pouring water on those getting baptized) which later became customary, especially when this affusion was reduced from a real wetting to a sprinkling and eventually in practice to a mere moistening with as little water as possible.”
Lastly, we immerse people in water because the Scriptures suggest that baptism by immersion was the practice of the early church. John the Baptizer baptized people at Aenon “because there was plenty of water (Jn. 3:23). When Jesus was baptized by John he “came up out of the water” (Mark 1:10, emphasis added). In Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch they went down into the water and came up out of the water (Acts 8:36-39). In light of these considerations, immersion seems to be the most adequate and faithful mode of baptism. While it’s not the only valid form of baptism, it is the mode which reflects the meaning of baptism the fullest, and therefore at Mid Valley, it’s the model we practice.
We must remember that baptism is more than a simple rite that believers undergo. As a sacrament it is a symbol of something far bigger. Baptism is a declaration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit expresses our death to sin, burial of the old life, and resurrection to a new life in Christ Jesus!
One of the major developments of the Protestant Reformation was the return to Scripture as supreme authority. The Reformers coined the phrase sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) to summarize this conviction. To rightly understand the Reformers conviction that Scripture is our highest authority, we need to understand what the Scriptures are, how God authored the Scriptures, and what Jesus said in regard to them.
The Scriptures are the expression of God’s mind given to us in written form. The term Scripture means sacred writing and the word Bible comes from the Greek word meaning book. Therefore the Scriptures are a book of God’s sacred writing. It’s a collection of 66 books, written in three different languages (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic) written from 3 different continents (Asia, Africa, Europe) over a span of fifteen hundred years (from about 1450 B.C. to about A.D. 90) by over forty different authors. These people were not alike. They came from various levels of society and from very diverse backgrounds. Some were kings; others were statesmen, priests, prophets. There was a fisherman, a tax-collector, a tentmaker and a physician. Their opinions on any other subject would have been as wide and diverse as ours is today. Yet together they produced a volume that is uniquely unified in its message. The message is, in short, a single story regarding the restoration and renovation of the entire material and immaterial universe through Jesus Christ!
Before His death and resurrection, Jesus told the disciples that a day would come when He would no longer be in their presence but that the Holy Spirit would come and would remind them of His life and teachings so that they could write and teach accurately that which Christ accomplished (Jn. 14:25-26; 16:12-15). The Scripture, unlike any other book, is a book written by both God and man. There was a partnership between the Holy Spirit and the human authors as the Spirit guided them in the process. God was working with their unique personalities, their unique backgrounds, unique life experiences, their education, to enable, or to inspire the writing of Scripture in such a way that they wrote all that God wanted them to say without excess or error (2 Pet. 1:20-21, 1 Cor. 14:37). We call this divine inspiration. As one theologian wrote, “The belief that God wrote Scripture in concert with human authors whom he inspired to perfectly record his words is called verbal (the very words of the Bible) plenary (every part of the Bible) inspiration (are God-breathed revelation). Very simply, this means that God the Holy Spirit inspired not just the thoughts of Scripture but also the very details and exact words that were perfectly recorded for us as Scripture.” As Evangelical Christians, we value and love the Scripture; we cannot simply ignore parts of the Bible as primitive, dismiss other sections as culturally irrelevant, or explain them away by human reasoning. Paul tells us, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, emphasis added).
The most important reason for believing the Scripture to be the Word of God and the sole authority for Christians in all matters of faith and practice is that this is what the Lord Jesus taught. Jesus highly esteemed the Old Testament; He continually quoted it (Mt. 4:1-11), saw His life as a fulfillment of it (Lk. 4:16-21), and declared, “I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matt. 5:18). An iota is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, so what Jesus was saying was that even the most minute parts of the Mosaic Law are authoritative. Because our Lord Jesus trusted the Scriptures as the Word of God and submitted to it as an authoritative revelation, we do the same.
Scripture is the expression of God’s mind, therefore, we encourage all Believers to memorize, meditate, study and share His truth. We trust the Holy Spirit to use the Scriptures to make us more like Jesus, both individually and corporately as the church.
 Gerry Breshears, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe, pg. 48. Crossway, 2010