Participants: Lonnie Melashenko
Series Code: VOPS
Program Code: VOPS000012
00:31 My grandparents from Russia and Ukraine
00:36 were pioneers to Western Canada
00:38 just before the Bolshevik Revolution.
00:41 They had been simple farmers over in the old country.
00:46 Some of the relatives who chose to stay in Ukraine
00:50 suffered under Joseph Stalin's totalitarian regime.
00:54 But my grandparents were facing so much hardship and bloodshed,
00:58 and heartache that they finally escaped
01:00 and they fled as refugees willing to sever all ties
01:03 to their homeland and leave their families
01:05 and friends and flee.
01:07 Step out in faith and make a completely brand new start.
01:12 They didn't have much money, so they came over,
01:14 believe it or not, as cattle on a cattle ship.
01:17 "Steerage," they called it back then.
01:20 Some of my family died in those cattle ships
01:23 on that horrific voyage across the ocean.
01:27 Tonight the Voice of Prophecy speaks good news
01:30 about how you can start again.
01:34 I want you to take a trip with me back 2,000 years ago
01:38 when Christianity first came into being
01:41 in the very 1st Century after Christ.
01:44 It was a serious threat to the Jewish religion.
01:47 So Saul of Tarsus,
01:50 who is a Pharisee of the Pharisees,
01:52 he set out to destroy Christianity.
01:55 Stamp it out.
01:56 In fact, Jesus predicted
01:57 this would happen in Luke 21:12.
02:00 Jesus said, "They will lay hands on you and persecute you,
02:04 delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons,
02:07 and you will be brought before kings
02:09 and rulers for My name's sake."
02:12 And this prophecy was fulfilled almost at once.
02:16 And yet, despite persecution,
02:18 Christianity began to grow rapidly.
02:22 So Saul of Tarsus championed stamping out Christianity.
02:26 This young Jewish Pharisee, in a very high position,
02:30 was actually a Roman citizen by birth.
02:32 He had been educated
02:33 at the feet of the most eminent rabbi in Jerusalem
02:35 by the name of Gamaliel,
02:37 and he was so zealous for his Jewish faith
02:41 that the rabbis promoted him to the Sanhedrin,
02:44 as staunch defender of their faith.
02:47 Saul, whose name later was changed
02:50 to Paul after his conversion.
02:52 He describes what he used to do
02:55 to put an end to the hated Christians.
02:56 He says, "I was a hired gun. I was a hit man."
03:00 "Have gun-will travel." That was me.
03:02 Notice, Acts 22:4, 5, he says, "I persecuted to the death,
03:08 binding and delivering into prisons
03:10 both men and women
03:11 I went to Damascus to bring in chains
03:14 even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished."
03:19 But one day as he was on his way to Damascus,
03:22 a bright light shone out of heaven.
03:24 Brilliant like a bolt of lightning,
03:26 and it struck him to the ground blinding him.
03:28 And he heard a voice, saying, in Acts 22:7, 8, 10
03:32 "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?'
03:37 So I answered, 'Who are You, Lord?'
03:40 And He said to me,
03:42 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.'
03:47 'What shall I do, Lord?'
03:48 And the Lord said, 'Arise and go to Damascus,
03:52 and there you will be told all things
03:55 which are appointed for you to do.'"
03:58 But Saul was so blinded by that bright light,
04:01 he had to be led by the hand to a room in Damascus.
04:04 And for three days he sat there in his motel 6 room,
04:08 and Saul had a lot of time
04:10 alone to think about all the suffering and the pain
04:12 that he had been causing God's people.
04:15 Can you imagine what his mind
04:16 was like as he replayed like videotapes
04:18 all those times he swore and cursed Jesus?
04:23 Well, Saul sat there in total darkness
04:25 for three anxious days brooding, worrying, alone.
04:30 And then the Bible says that God tapped a man
04:32 on the shoulder by the name of Ananias
04:34 who was a prophet and He said,
04:36 "Ananias, I want you to go and visit Saul of Tarsus."
04:42 Quaking in his boots, Ananias says,
04:44 "Lord! Did I hear you right? Come again.
04:46 Haven't you heard the reports in the newspapers about Saul?"
04:49 God said, Ananias, I want you to go."
04:51 So Ananias came and he said, in Acts 22:13 and on.
04:55 He said, "'Brother Saul, receive your sight.'
05:01 And at that same hour, he says, I looked up and saw him.
05:05 And then he said, 'The God of our fathers has chosen you
05:09 that you should know His will,
05:11 and see the Just One,
05:12 and hear the voice of His mouth.
05:15 For you will be His witness to all men
05:18 of what you have seen and heard.'"
05:21 In other words, Saul, God wants you
05:24 to go forward in your life, shut the door on your past,
05:28 make things right with your Lord.
05:30 And then Ananias said something of profound importance to Saul,
05:34 in verse 16, "And now, why are you waiting?
05:38 Arise and be baptized, wash away your sins,
05:42 calling on the name of the Lord."
05:45 I beg your pardon. "What?
05:48 I've been baptized in Jewish baptism.
05:51 Talking about me?" "Yes, you, Saul."
05:54 "How come?"
05:56 "Baptism is the way God designs you
05:59 are to be joined to your Lord forever.
06:01 Baptism is the Christian doorway to a new life, Saul.
06:05 To wash you, to clean you from the terrible things
06:09 you've done in the name of religion."
06:11 Well, Saul was kind of setback, I mean, he thought
06:15 he'd been one of the good guys.
06:18 But he had been murdering innocent people.
06:20 His conscience needed to be cleansed.
06:23 I mean if anybody needed mercy, Saul did.
06:25 He needed to be baptized
06:27 so he could know God had forgiven him.
06:29 So God could give him
06:30 his brand new Holy Spirit power.
06:34 Saul the Pharisee, Saul the persecutor,
06:37 was about to be completely turned around,
06:40 stood on his head, and begin all over again
06:43 and become the great Apostle Paul.
06:46 For the rest of his life, a Jesus freak,
06:50 a zealot for Jesus Christ.
06:54 Have you ever hoped and wished
06:55 that you could kind of just start all over again?
06:58 Just wash away all of the mistakes
07:00 of your past life?
07:01 You know, God knew
07:02 every one of us needs just such an experience,
07:05 and so He instituted Christian baptism
07:09 as a sign of a brand new start.
07:12 That's heaven's sign that we've been born again.
07:16 And is there any more beautiful symbol
07:18 of death to sin, and burial of our past,
07:21 and resurrection to a brand new life
07:23 than baptism by immersion?
07:25 Being buried beneath the water?
07:29 When we were over in Israel a few years ago
07:30 before all of the problems in the Middle East,
07:33 you know, I was fascinated to learn
07:34 that Christian baptism actually originated in Judaism.
07:40 That's right.
07:41 It began of course for Christianity
07:43 with John the Baptist,
07:44 that rugged Jewish evangelist
07:46 who appeared there in the wilderness of Judea
07:48 boldly preaching repentance to Jews.
07:51 All roads led to the Jordan River
07:53 where crowds of people listened to him.
07:55 And we read in Matthew 3:5, 6.
07:58 "Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea,
08:01 and all the region round about Jordan,
08:03 and were baptized of him in Jordan,
08:06 confessing their sins."
08:08 But one day, word about
08:10 that spread clear up to a little town
08:11 in the northern part of Galilee called Nazareth.
08:14 And a young carpenter, quietly closed the door of his shop,
08:19 and he said "good-bye" to His mother, and His family,
08:22 and He made His way all the way down
08:23 to Jordan Valley, to the Jordan River.
08:26 And when John happened to catch sight of Him,
08:28 under inspiration he pointed to Jesus
08:30 in John 1:29 and said, "Behold!
08:33 The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"
08:37 Folks, look, there's the Messiah!
08:39 God's anointed One that the prophecies have looked
08:41 forward to for 4,000 years,
08:43 that's Him, right there.
08:44 I recognize Him, the true sacrificial Lamb of God
08:47 who is going to die for the sins of the world.
08:50 But then John was struck absolutely speechless
08:54 when Jesus started to take off His outer garment,
08:57 He removed His sandals, and He started to walk down
09:01 into the Jordan River and He came down
09:02 and He stood there right beside John.
09:04 And He said, "John, John, I want you to baptize me."
09:10 John hesitated, "Me? Baptize You?"
09:15 Matthew 3:14, John says,
09:17 "I need to be baptized by You."
09:20 I'm not worthy to even untie Your shoelaces.
09:22 But Jesus answered, and said, "Let it be so now,
09:26 for it is proper for us to do this
09:28 to fulfill all righteousness."
09:32 You see, Jesus didn't need to be baptized
09:35 to forgive His sins.
09:37 But He asked to be baptized
09:38 because He wanted to leave us a perfect example.
09:42 And so the Bible says that John immersed Jesus
09:45 in the Jordan River
09:47 because that's what this word baptism really means.
09:50 In the Greek, it's Baptizo.
09:54 And it means, to dip, or plunge under.
09:57 The Bible says, in Matthew 3:16, 17,
10:00 "As soon as Jesus was baptized,
10:03 He went up out of the water.
10:07 And at that moment heaven was opened,
10:09 and He saw the Spirit of God
10:10 descending like a dove and lighting on him.
10:12 And a voice from heaven saying, 'This is my beloved Son,
10:17 whom I love, with Him I am well pleased.'"
10:22 See God publicly introduced Jesus there
10:25 as His Son, the Anointed One.
10:28 Fulfilling the prophecy of Daniel 9:24,
10:31 and the marking of the official beginning
10:33 of Jesus Christ's Messianic ministry,
10:36 exactly to the month
10:37 Old Testament prophecy predicted
10:39 He would be anointed as Messiah.
10:41 Remember, in the fall of A.D 27.
10:44 We studied about that in our forth night here together
10:46 when we took that 490 year prophecy
10:49 about that "One Life that Changed the World."
10:52 But it was with pinpoint accuracy,
10:54 in fact Acts 10:38 says, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
10:59 with the Holy Ghost and with power,
11:02 who went about doing good, and healing
11:04 all that were oppressed of the devil,
11:06 for God was with Him."
11:09 In other words, ladies and gentlemen,
11:11 baptism was the doorway
11:14 to a brand new mission for Jesus.
11:17 Heaven's unique sign that we're born
11:19 not of human birth only, but now we're born from above.
11:23 A sign that we've started all over again.
11:27 In fact, that happened to be Christ's very last command
11:31 that He gave before He ascended to heaven.
11:33 We read that in Matthew 28:19, 20.
11:37 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
11:41 baptizing them in the name of the Father
11:43 and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
11:45 teaching them to observe all things
11:47 that I have commanded you, and lo,
11:49 I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
11:53 Jesus says, Lonn, if you want to begin again,
11:57 baptism is the sign.
11:59 That's heaven's one-of-a-kind,
12:01 tailor-made plan to start all over and be born again.
12:07 You know, people, and even pastors and priests
12:09 and bishops used to argue
12:11 about this question of baptism and they used to say,
12:13 "Well, you know, what's the proper mode?"
12:15 If you walk down the street of any community
12:17 and you knock on the doors
12:18 of 20 different homes, and you ask,
12:21 "What do you believe true Bible baptism is?"
12:23 You'd get 20 different answers.
12:25 Some would say, well, in my church, we do sprinkling.
12:30 Others would say, well, in ours, we pour on people.
12:33 Others say, well, in ours we just put
12:34 a few drops of oil on their head.
12:36 Some would say, well, in ours
12:37 we baptize three times face forward.
12:40 I mean, there are so many different customs,
12:42 sometimes you wonder if baptism is even Christian.
12:45 Did you know that some people baptize you
12:47 by sprinkling salt on you?
12:50 Some by dipping you?
12:52 We even baptize animals now, don't we?
12:55 Some churches baptize you in wine.
12:58 Or they baptize you by mail.
13:01 One preacher actually baptized
13:03 his great grandson by long distance telephone.
13:07 In Texas, you Texans listening, there's a church over there
13:10 where you don't even need water,
13:12 you simply go down to the front,
13:14 and the preacher, he lays his dry,
13:16 bare hand on your head,
13:17 and he says, "I now baptize you."
13:20 I guess you'd have to call that the "dry-cleaning method."
13:26 There was a church in Hollywood that started a new rage.
13:28 And they used to practice sprinkling in that church
13:31 but the pastor, you know,
13:32 he felt this wasn't a very enjoyable experience
13:34 for the little babies who would kind of squirm and panic
13:37 when that unpleasant little thunderstorm
13:40 struck them in the face with the cold water.
13:41 So the pastor called and had the local florist
13:44 send him some beautiful white roses.
13:47 White of course symbolizes purity in the Bible
13:49 and the rose, well, that's a symbol of Jesus.
13:52 He's called the Rose of Sharon.
13:53 So it was beautiful and the next Sunday,
13:55 this pastor proceeded to the surprise
13:57 and delight of the congregation
13:59 to sprinkle pretty white rose petals
14:02 softly over the babies' cheeks.
14:05 Baptized with rose petals.
14:08 Well, what will they think of next?
14:09 You know what, movie stars
14:11 started to hear about this place
14:12 and they would come and they were ordering
14:13 different colored rose petals to match the color
14:16 of their clothes or their bleached blonde hair.
14:18 In fact one of them really did it up right
14:21 and arranged to get baptized
14:23 in a whole tank full of rose petals.
14:26 Well, I am so glad
14:27 that preachers don't argue about this any more.
14:29 They've re-discovered Bible baptism by immersion.
14:34 I agree, that some still offer a smorgasbord.
14:37 You can do it different varieties.
14:38 But Jeannie and I were in Downtown Los Angeles
14:40 not too long ago with a series of meetings
14:42 like this at the Berean Church
14:43 which is watching tonight there.
14:46 We went down to the brand new $300 million Catholic Church
14:50 on Temple Street in Los Angeles,
14:52 and it is absolutely phenomenal.
14:55 Do you know that that brand new Catholic Church
14:57 has a great big baptistery in it?
15:00 A pool, so you can get baptized by immersion.
15:04 Methodists now do that.
15:05 Lutherans give you the choice.
15:07 Bible baptism, you can go to a river,
15:10 you can go to a lake, you can go to the ocean.
15:11 And I'm glad
15:12 that Christians are finally getting it together.
15:14 Back to Ephesians 4:5 where the Apostle Paul says,
15:17 there isn't to be any confusion on how to do this.
15:20 "There is one Lord, there is one faith,
15:22 and there is one baptism."
15:25 That's because the Greek word Baptizo means
15:28 literally "to immerse," "to plunge under."
15:33 Like you ladies might dye a piece of cloth,
15:37 you don't take that piece of cloth
15:38 and go over to the dye
15:39 and dip your little fingers in it and go...
15:43 It's not the way you're gonna change that cloth.
15:45 No, you take that and you completely plunge it under.
15:48 You baptize it. That's what the word means.
15:52 In fact, probably the most interesting
15:54 detailed account of baptism
15:55 by immersion is recorded in the Bible
15:57 and it's found in the Book of Acts.
16:00 A few years ago I went on a tour by myself
16:02 with a group of ministers
16:03 from many denominations to the holy land.
16:05 And I actually stood on the road
16:07 just outside of Jerusalem
16:09 where God had directed Philip the evangelist
16:12 to go out and do a little bit of hitch-hiking.
16:14 Did you know that there's hitch-hikers in the Bible?
16:16 There are.
16:17 You see God had someone in mind
16:19 that he wanted Philip to meet, who needed the gospel,
16:22 the good news about Jesus and it was on that road
16:25 that leads from Jerusalem down to Gaza.
16:28 That's the Gaza strip we hear about in the news now.
16:30 Well, Philip goes out there and he is standing there,
16:32 waiting as the traffic's going by,
16:34 then he sees a VIP stretch limousine
16:37 come racing toward him.
16:39 It's Alan Greenspan.
16:42 Ethiopia's Chancellor-Exchequer,
16:44 financial wizard and treasurer for Queen Candace in Egypt.
16:49 He's this big diplomat
16:50 in charge of all of her treasury
16:52 and evidently this government official.
16:54 He'd gone to Jerusalem to worship
16:55 the true God, the Bible says.
16:57 And now this African celebrity is on his way home,
17:00 riding in his limousine-chariot,
17:02 but he's reading from the scroll
17:04 of the Prophet Isaiah.
17:06 And as this chariot flashes by, Philip runs toward it,
17:10 the Spirit encourages, he's the one
17:11 and he finally calls out.
17:13 In Acts 8:30, 31, I kind of smile when I read this.
17:16 Hey, Mr. Chariot Man,
17:19 "Do you understand what you are reading?"
17:21 Surprised and startled,
17:23 he pulls the horses to a stop and he calls back.
17:25 "How can I, unless somebody would
17:28 come up here and guide me?"
17:30 Come up on up here, Sir, and explain this passage.
17:33 Who's this talking about here? This Messiah.
17:37 Well, Philip immediately knew
17:38 that the man was reading from Isaiah 53,
17:41 which is a detailed prophecy
17:43 about the crucifixion of Jesus as Messiah.
17:46 And Acts 8:35, it says, "Then Philip began
17:50 with that very passage of Scripture
17:52 and he told him the good news about Jesus."
17:55 I mean, what a marvelous Bible study.
17:58 Can you imagine, there they are,
17:59 bouncing along in that chariot,
18:01 Philip's trying to tell him about Jesus and Calvary.
18:04 He told him the parables, no doubt.
18:05 He must have told him about the wonderful miracles
18:07 that Jesus did and they traveled for hours
18:10 as he explained the significance
18:12 of baptism by immersion,
18:14 for the Bible says that finally when they came
18:16 to a desert oasis out there, the Ethiopian said to eunuch--
18:20 I should say Philip said to this Ethiopian
18:23 in Acts 8:36 and on,
18:27 The Ethiopian says, "Philip, look here.
18:30 Here's water.
18:32 What would hinder me from being baptized?
18:34 Philip said, 'Well, if you believe
18:37 with all your heart, you may.'
18:40 And he answered and said,
18:41 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'
18:46 So it says, he commanded the chariot to stand still.
18:48 And both Philip and the eunuch
18:50 went down into the water and he immersed him.
18:55 He baptized him."
18:57 Didn't sprinkle rose petals on him.
19:00 Philip immersed him, just as John
19:02 immersed Jesus Christ when He was baptized.
19:05 And by the way, the Bible then says
19:07 that the Ethiopian, "went on his way rejoicing!"
19:11 Because he had followed God's instructions explicitly
19:14 to bury the old life of sin,
19:16 start a brand new life in Jesus Christ.
19:18 And by the way,
19:19 that's a wonderful promise, too, friend.
19:22 Joy and rejoicing always happen
19:24 when we know we are following God's instructions explicitly.
19:30 Well, the Bible is very, very clear
19:33 and I am so glad that my Catholic friends
19:34 and Protestants now agree
19:36 that immersion was the only mode of baptism
19:40 practiced by the early Christian church.
19:41 There's no other way.
19:43 Jeannie and I visited Macedonia in northern Greece
19:50 and we visited the little town of Philippi in July, 2001.
19:54 Philippi was where the very first Christian church
19:57 was ever established in Europe by the Apostle Paul himself.
20:02 By the way, if you ever go to Philippi, fascinating place,
20:06 but don't miss the 1st Century Church there.
20:09 That church has a huge baptistery,
20:12 right there in the middle of it.
20:13 In fact, all the ancient churches
20:15 in Europe had big baptisteries,
20:17 little pools like the one in Milan, Italy,
20:20 if you ever go there.
20:22 Because, you see, for nearly 1,200 years
20:25 that's how all the people were baptized.
20:28 Historians, archaeologists
20:29 of every denomination will agree.
20:32 Let me quote from Catholic Cardinal James Gibbons.
20:36 He wrote, "For several centuries
20:39 after the establishment of Christianity
20:41 baptism was usually conferred by immersion."
20:45 But he says, "Since the twelfth century
20:49 the practice of baptizing by infusion"
20:52 that's pouring or sprinkling.
20:54 "Has now prevailed in the Catholic Church,
20:56 as this manner is attended with less inconvenience
20:59 than baptism by immersion.
21:01 The Church exercises her discretion
21:03 in adopting the most convenient mode,
21:06 according to the circumstances of time and place."
21:10 Well, when Jeannie and I visited Philippi,
21:12 what an experience.
21:14 I mean, that was the exact same riverside there
21:17 where Paul came on that Sabbath and he met Lydia,
21:20 that seller of purple, remember,
21:21 and those very first Christians
21:23 who were worshipping down there by the river.
21:25 First Christian beach-head in Western civilization.
21:29 I mean, Philippi was where Paul
21:31 got started preaching and he was so effective,
21:35 he stirred up the people in that town to a revolution.
21:38 It erupted, a mob attacked Paul and Silas,
21:40 tore off their clothing.
21:42 The authorities beat them,
21:43 they flogged them, they threw them in prison.
21:45 And, by the way, we actually saw the prison.
21:47 It's there. Archaeology has uncovered it.
21:50 Broken down by an earthquake
21:51 where the jailor put them in stocks,
21:55 their bodies half upside down,
21:56 and their lacerated backs, they were hanging
21:59 from the stocks with their filthy
22:01 whatever was there, the muck and the confinement.
22:04 And their feet, Paul says, were so tight,
22:06 the pain was absolutely excruciating.
22:08 But, you know what, Paul and Silas didn't murmur.
22:12 Bible tells us that in that total darkness,
22:15 utter desolation of that dungeon,
22:17 they encouraged each other,
22:19 and they prayed with each other
22:20 and they sang to God
22:22 because they thought that they had been found worthy
22:24 to suffer for the name of Jesus Christ.
22:28 Well, the other prisoners there,
22:29 they're absolutely astonished.
22:30 Not a very big prison by the way.
22:33 But those prisoners were evidently only used
22:35 to hearing moans and groans and curses
22:37 from anybody thrown into that confinement cell.
22:42 And the guards were even wondering.
22:43 These guys are praising?
22:45 They're praying? Who are these men?
22:48 Cold, hungry, tortured and yet, they're rejoicing?
22:51 Well, the Bible says that suddenly at midnight
22:54 an earthquake shook those prison walls so violently
22:57 that the doors flew open and everyone's chains fell off
23:00 and the keeper of the prison, he came running,
23:02 and, seeing that the doors were all open,
23:04 and in the dark assuming all the prisoners had fled.
23:07 He knew Rome's punishment for letting prisoners escape.
23:10 So the Bible says, he was in the process
23:12 of taking out his own sword to commit suicide.
23:15 And Acts 16:28, "But Paul called out
23:19 with a loud voice, saying,
23:20 "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here."
23:26 The jailor was shocked.
23:28 I mean, Paul and Silas had suffered torture at his hands,
23:31 untold agony and yet these poor men,
23:34 they held no resentment.
23:36 They wanted no revenge.
23:39 Now that jailor knew that they were innocent men.
23:42 Bible says, he ran, he got a light,
23:44 and he went into their cell.
23:45 And Acts 16:30, 31, he says,
23:48 "And he brought them out and said,
23:50 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'
23:55 And they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,
23:58 and you will be saved, and your household.'"
24:02 And the Bible says, "And he took them
24:03 the same hour of the night, washed their stripes.
24:06 And immediately he and all of his family were baptized."
24:11 At that river spot where we were,
24:12 just a couple of stones' throw from that prison.
24:15 By the way, the worship service that we held by that river.
24:18 I'll never forget it.
24:19 I get choked up just thinking about it.
24:21 Right near that jail in Philippi,
24:23 it's a service that I'll cherish forever.
24:26 Precisely where that jailor and his family became members
24:29 and they sat on the front row of the new congregation
24:31 of the first Christian church ever in the Western world.
24:36 By the way, if you ever get over there
24:38 and you visit Ephesus in Turkey,
24:42 by all means, go and visit St. John's Church.
24:45 Because the disciple John
24:47 who wrote the Book of Revelation,
24:48 he actually pastored that church,
24:51 which was built as a memorial to him.
24:53 It is so old that the third general church council
24:56 took place in that very building in 431 A.D.
25:01 But what's of special interest,
25:03 if you go there is the baptistery,
25:05 it's circular in shape, it's about 12 feet in diameter
25:09 and 4 feet deep, with stairs leading down
25:12 into the font on two sides of it.
25:15 Let's move in our little geographical tour
25:17 while we're on tour right now.
25:18 Let's go over to Italy.
25:20 Did you folks ever hear of the Leaning Tower of Pisa?
25:24 Did you know that that is really an ancient cathedral?
25:28 And if you ever go there, please don't miss
25:30 what's inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa, that cathedral.
25:34 There's an ancient baptistery, it's a pool 20 feet across
25:39 and 4 feet deep constructed by the Catholic Church.
25:42 And tourists will often say,
25:45 "How come some Catholics needed
25:46 so much water to sprinkle people."
25:49 And the tour guides will correctly inform you,
25:52 "Ladies and gentlemen, that is because
25:53 for 1,300 years the only mode of baptism
25:57 was immersion, even for Catholics."
26:00 Almost to the time that Christopher Columbus
26:02 sailed for America in 1492.
26:05 And there are dozens and dozens
26:07 and dozens of such cathedrals
26:08 with these large baptismal fonts all over Europe.
26:11 Sixty-six in Italy alone, whose construction dates
26:15 between the 4th and the 14th centuries.
26:19 So my point is that there is no debate
26:21 about the mode of baptism.
26:25 The important question tonight is
26:28 how important is the rite of baptism?
26:32 Is it really necessary to be baptized by immersion?
26:38 In fact, Jesus says it means
26:40 something profoundly significant.
26:42 In Mark 16:16, Jesus says,
26:46 "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved."
26:53 Well, you say, is it that important?
26:56 In John 3:5 Jesus told Nicodemus,
27:00 "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit,
27:04 he cannot enter into the kingdom."
27:07 "Well," someone says, "Lonnie,
27:09 if it's that important, how do I prepare for baptism?
27:12 What do I have to do?"
27:14 You know, there's I believe just three simple steps.
27:18 Jesus told His disciples, step one, Matthew 28:19,
27:22 "Go and teach all nations, baptizing them
27:27 in the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit."
27:29 Teaching then must precede baptism.
27:34 You got to study first.
27:35 You got to get some basic teaching.
27:37 Like taking our Discover Bible course
27:39 or coming to a series of Bible meetings like this.
27:41 Teaching. Uh-oh!
27:45 That means then that sprinkling
27:47 as an infant might be called sprinkling
27:51 but it is not baptism
27:53 because an infant can't be taught doctrine.
27:57 Jesus said the baptismal candidate first must be taught.
28:01 Must choose and make an intelligent decision.
28:04 "To obey everything I have commanded you" he says.
28:09 By the way, this doesn't mean
28:10 you have to have your Ph.D. in religion
28:12 before you can get baptized.
28:13 Candidates simply prepare for the sacred rite
28:16 of baptism by getting acquainted
28:18 with some of the basic teachings of Jesus,
28:20 like we've been doing from night to night.
28:22 But then we start on a wonderful journey
28:25 of living a brand new life, Christ's way.
28:28 Step number one is teaching.
28:31 Well, what would you suggest would be the second step
28:34 in preparing a person for baptism?
28:37 When that Ethiopian asked Philip,
28:41 "Could I be baptized, what hinders me?"
28:44 Philip said, in Acts 8:37,
28:47 "If you believe with all of your heart, you may."
28:52 Total belief in Jesus Christ.
28:56 Well, now you got to remember
28:57 that there's two different kinds of belief
28:58 or faith, or three at least
29:00 I told you the other night that even the devils believe,
29:03 they tremble, but that won't save the devil, will it?
29:06 Remember my illustration of the chair up here
29:09 or when I gave away that $20 bill,
29:11 got to have the right kind of faith.
29:14 This is the kind of trusting faith, accepting faith,
29:17 where you put your whole weight on Jesus Christ.
29:23 But there's a third step
29:24 that the Apostle Peter refers to in Acts 3:19
29:27 and it's called Repentance.
29:30 It says, "Repent therefore and be converted,
29:33 that your sins may be blotted out."
29:36 Well, what is repentance?
29:38 Repentance simply means to be sorry for my sins,
29:41 what they did to Jesus.
29:42 And with God's help that I'm gonna turn from my past sins
29:46 and Jesus, by the way, promises to do this for you.
29:49 He'll give you repentance, He says.
29:52 So there they are, three simple steps.
29:54 1. Before baptism you should at least understand
29:56 some of the basic teachings of Jesus.
29:59 2. You should believe with all of your heart
30:01 in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of your life.
30:04 As Billy Graham says, he is boss.
30:07 3. And third, you should confess
30:09 all of your sins and repent.
30:11 Not very complicated but it is very personal.
30:17 Friend, if you've ever wished
30:18 that you could change your life for the better
30:20 but you haven't known how, these three simple steps
30:24 prepare you for baptism so you may truly become
30:27 a brand new person, from the inside out.
30:31 And Jesus invites us to come, come just as you are, He says.
30:35 Come today. Come now.
30:37 Don't wait until you think you're perfect.
30:39 He says, "Let Me worry about your sins.
30:41 Let me worry about your habits.
30:43 They're My problem now. You just do the coming.
30:46 I'll do the forgiving. I'll convert you.
30:49 I'll empower you. I'll help change you."
30:52 He invites us in Acts 22:16.
30:54 "And now why are you waiting?
30:56 Arise, be baptized, wash away your sins."
31:01 One very dark night, the Bible tells us
31:03 in the 3rd chapter of the Book of John that a Jewish leader
31:06 by the name of Nicodemus came to Jesus.
31:08 He came very secretly because
31:10 well, he didn't want his peers to know
31:12 he was really interested
31:13 in this itinerant teacher's new theology.
31:16 And as he met Jesus, the Bible says,
31:18 he kind of flattered him there in John 3:2,
31:20 and he said, "Rabbi, we know
31:24 that You are a teacher come from God,
31:26 for no one can do these signs
31:28 that You do unless God is with him."
31:31 Well, you know, Jesus could read
31:32 that man like a book,
31:34 so He cut right to the point
31:36 and He showed Nicodemus what he really needed.
31:39 Verses 3 and 4, "I say unto you,
31:42 unless one is born again,
31:45 he cannot see the kingdom of God.
31:48 Nicodemus said to him,
31:50 'How can a man be born again when he is old?
31:54 Can he enter a second time
31:56 into his mother's womb and be born?'"
31:58 Jesus must have chuckled and said,
32:01 "Nicodemus, I'm talking about spiritual rebirth."
32:06 Nicodemus, you can't get yourself born, can you?
32:10 Can you get yourself born? No.
32:13 Birth is a gift, given to you by someone else.
32:17 Nicodemus, it's the same thing with being born again.
32:20 That's a gift someone else give you outside of yourself.
32:25 Notice John 3:5, "Jesus assuredly said,
32:29 'Most assuredly, I say to you, Nicodemus,
32:31 unless one is born of water and of the Spirit,
32:35 he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.'"
32:39 Well, now, Nicodemus was a Jew, a Pharisee.
32:43 And he knew that the Jews baptized people.
32:47 They outwardly dunked them in what they called a ritual bath.
32:52 Jews you could even find them now,
32:54 the historians have found it
32:55 underneath the city of Jerusalem,
32:56 those mikveh baths, a ritual baptism.
33:01 But Jesus said Nicodemus I'm talking about
33:03 more than just getting dunked like the Jews do.
33:06 I'm talking about spiritual rebirth
33:09 on the inside as well.
33:10 There's got to be water, yes.
33:12 But it's got to also have the spirit.
33:14 Outside. Inside.
33:17 True baptism is an outward demonstration
33:20 of an inward transformation.
33:24 What He was saying to Nicodemus is
33:26 just going over there to somebody
33:27 and having them dunked you
33:29 or sprinkle you, that isn't enough.
33:32 Jesus made it very clear. That won't change you.
33:36 What you need is the power of the Holy Spirit
33:38 to transform your life
33:40 because anything else is totally inadequate.
33:44 Jesus says, you come to the water.
33:47 I'll send the Holy Spirit.
33:49 Water and the Spirit, that's the way a person
33:53 officially seals his acceptance of Jesus Christ.
33:56 You know, I like the Bible's analogies
33:58 and it calls it very much like a wedding ceremony.
34:02 Now wedding is a public sign
34:05 of a brand new relationship with a couple,
34:08 we call that "marriage" or "matrimony."
34:10 And the ceremony of baptism is simply the same.
34:14 It's a public sign of our marriage to Christ.
34:18 When we're baptized, God announces,
34:21 like the pastor would say, ladies and gentlemen,
34:23 I'm happy to introduce to you for the very first time
34:25 the newest wedded couple
34:26 in the state of Carolina, Mr. and Mrs.
34:28 And Jesus, announces Matthew 3:17,
34:31 when we're baptized, here they are, here's this person.
34:34 "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."
34:37 Here is one of My saints.
34:40 Now the Apostle Paul says
34:42 something interesting about baptism.
34:43 He says when you're baptized, you "put on Christ"
34:47 like you'd put on a gorgeous new coat.
34:50 I want you to watch
34:51 very carefully what baptism symbolizes.
34:52 In Romans 6 Paul very clearly says
34:55 that immersion visually commemorates faith
34:59 in three great facts of Christ's sacrifice,
35:02 His death, His burial, and His resurrection.
35:06 Notice Romans 6:3, "Or do you not know
35:10 that as many of us as were baptized into Christ
35:13 were baptized into His death?"
35:17 Now how can you know when a person's dead?
35:21 Well, breathing stops.
35:24 For a moment in baptism, you take your breath,
35:27 breath is suspended, the eyes shut.
35:31 Lips close. Hands are folded usually.
35:37 The next step is you lay down in that watery grave.
35:42 Romans 6:4, "Therefore we are buried with Him
35:47 through baptism into death."
35:50 And we're immersed. Not very long.
35:53 I usually tell the candidate,
35:54 it will be like two seconds, 1,000, 2,000.
35:57 That's all.
35:59 But this immersion symbolizes something special.
36:01 It means you died
36:04 in a voluntary death decision for Jesus Christ.
36:07 And when you're immersed under that water,
36:09 it means something, friend.
36:11 It means that something drowns.
36:13 Materialism, racism, war,
36:16 intemperance, greed and pride
36:18 and all of your secret sins, they are drowned,
36:20 friends, in that baptismal water.
36:23 Now if any evil manages to snorkel its way underwater
36:26 and you're still hiding something,
36:27 well, of course the true meaning of baptism
36:29 is violated, it's ruined.
36:32 But there's a crucial third part in this symbol,
36:36 you don't just leave a person there.
36:40 And Paul says in Romans 6:4,
36:42 "That just as Christ was raised from the dead
36:45 by the glory of the Father,
36:46 even so we also should now walk in newness of life."
36:52 Beautiful symbol.
36:54 But now please friend, remember
36:55 there's nothing magical about the water.
36:58 That water will not save you.
37:00 It's not the act of being baptized
37:02 that works some mysterious
37:03 miraculous change in an individual.
37:05 I mean, I could immerse a person 50 times
37:08 and they'd be just be as sinful as before,
37:09 unless their heart has been changed.
37:12 But God declares that when you have
37:14 that inward spiritual new birth
37:16 plus the outward symbol of baptism,
37:19 the person baptized is born of water and the Spirit.
37:26 It was June 11, 1958.
37:31 I well remember the day
37:32 because I was just 11 years old.
37:36 But that was the day that I died,
37:39 I was buried alive and I lived to tell about it.
37:44 I stepped into a baptistery in Springfield, Massachusetts,
37:47 and after a very simple but meaningful statement
37:49 about my young Christian experience
37:51 and my desire to follow Jesus my whole life,
37:54 I was baptized by Pastor Dan Sherman Harris
37:58 in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
38:01 You know that that was the most important day of my life.
38:05 My public baptism demonstrated my personal faith in the death,
38:10 burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
38:13 Paul says, "Lonnie,
38:15 what happened to you is that you died to sin,
38:19 the old you was buried,
38:21 and a brand new you came out of that baptismal pool."
38:25 I might not have looked any different to my parents,
38:28 my four brothers, I still looked the same.
38:30 But in God's sight, I was born again.
38:32 I was brand new.
38:33 I was now covered with the righteousness
38:34 of Jesus Christ.
38:35 Paul says in Romans 6:11, "Likewise you also,
38:39 now reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin,
38:43 but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
38:48 I'll tell you a little secret about Jeannie and me.
38:50 When we got engaged I was nearly 20,
38:58 and let me tell you, when we got married,
39:01 we weren't perfect. But we got married anyway.
39:05 And it was a perfect beginning.
39:08 You see, that's what's important tonight.
39:09 Ephesians 4:5 says, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism."
39:14 Keep it simple, Lonn. No confusion.
39:17 The only question to ask is, what did Jesus do?
39:21 When it was the right time, He did it.
39:24 No hesitation, no putting it off.
39:26 And the question today is,
39:28 will I take Him at His word and follow His example?
39:32 Friend, I may not know who you are out there.
39:34 I mean, I would have met you in your location
39:36 or where you have been on your spiritual journey.
39:40 If you have not understood the meaning
39:42 and importance of baptism before,
39:44 or if you have not had
39:45 the privilege of following Jesus
39:47 in this sacred ceremony of baptism by immersion,
39:50 well, then the same question
39:52 and the same invitation comes to you
39:53 just now that Paul presented to the Philippian jailer
39:56 when he cried out, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
40:02 It's still the same question, still the same answer.
40:06 And the invitation comes to you tonight.
40:08 Acts 22:16, "Why are you waiting?
40:12 Arise, be baptized, wash away your sins."
40:17 Will you say "yes" to Jesus today?
40:22 Well, you say, you know,
40:23 "I don't know if I really feel like I'm really ready."
40:27 Well, friend, feelings have very little to do with it.
40:31 I mean, how can we rely on our feelings
40:33 for something as important as baptism?
40:35 I just told you that Jeannie
40:36 and I couldn't wait to get married.
40:39 We've been separated by three years of college.
40:41 Me on the West Coast,
40:42 she living in the state of Maryland.
40:44 But let me tell you, we were so thankful
40:46 to finally get married.
40:47 And let me tell a little secret.
40:49 We got married in that little Methodist Church
40:51 in Frederick, Maryland.
40:52 When the ceremony was over, we are just kids.
40:54 We walked out.
40:55 We were gonna greet the people in the reception
40:57 and I leaned over and I whispered
40:58 as I kissed her on the cheek.
40:59 I said, sweetheart, I know we've said the words,
41:02 we've said, "I do"
41:03 but I don't feel married, do you?
41:06 I don't feel any different.
41:08 Do you think that we waited around
41:09 in that little Methodist Church in Frederick
41:11 until I felt married before we went off on our honeymoon?
41:15 Are you kidding? No way.
41:18 But the feelings finally caught up later.
41:21 It was about six months later. Now you've seen Jeannie.
41:23 You know that she's neat as a pin.
41:25 One morning I woke up and I looked over to her
41:27 and her hair was kind of this way.
41:29 I said, "Honey, you know something?
41:31 I think I finally feel married."
41:35 Friends, it's the same with baptism.
41:38 You can't wait until you feel right about it.
41:41 It's the only right thing to do.
41:43 And the feelings, they'll come, later.
41:47 Some say, well, you know,
41:48 maybe I should wait though until I'm a little older,
41:50 maybe a little more mature.
41:54 Let me give you a little statistic from Barna Research.
41:57 You've got all kinds of Harris polls and Gallup polls.
42:00 Well, there's Barna Research
42:02 is a religious poll it's scientifically studied
42:04 and they described the statistics.
42:06 Notice the screen.
42:08 The probability of a person accepting Jesus Christ
42:11 in relation to their age.
42:12 If you don't accept Jesus
42:14 and be baptized before you're 14,
42:17 the likelihood is that you have a very slim chance
42:20 you ever will accept Jesus Christ.
42:23 The facts are that if a person
42:25 is baptized from the years of 5-13,
42:28 the likelihood is 32% of a chance
42:31 and probability of accepting Jesus Christ.
42:33 That's the best age.
42:36 If you wait till you're 14-18, in that middle teenage years,
42:39 the likelihood plummets down to 4%
42:43 of a probability of accepting Jesus Christ.
42:45 If you wait till you're 19 up until death,
42:49 you only have a 6% probability
42:51 that you will ever accept Jesus Christ.
42:55 In other words, the teenage years
42:56 are not the best prime time
42:58 because it just doesn't work out that way.
43:01 But prior to 12 when the majority decide,
43:04 that's the greatest potential among
43:06 our young people and our children.
43:07 But the point is, regardless of your age,
43:09 if you have felt Jesus Christ speaking to your heart,
43:12 now is the day, today is the time,
43:14 and tonight Jesus and I want
43:16 to extend a personal invitation.
43:18 If you'd like to make plans to follow Jesus
43:20 all the way in Bible baptism,
43:22 I want you to make a tangible decision,
43:25 and a choice to stand up for Jesus Christ tonight.
43:28 He went to Calvary for you.
43:31 If you want to be baptized, we want to pray for you,
43:34 we want to help you.
43:35 We're kind of like spiritual obstetricians
43:38 in the new birth experience here.
43:40 We're just here to assist.
43:42 And I know some people hesitate.
43:43 And they hold back.
43:44 They don't believe that maybe they're ready.
43:47 But remember friend, baptism doesn't mean you're perfect.
43:50 It means you are committed.
43:52 And Jesus invites you, "Follow My footsteps
43:56 in the watery grave of baptism.
43:58 I offer forgiveness, I offer freedom
44:00 from all guilt of your past,
44:02 I offer you power to live a new life
44:05 through the Holy Spirit."
44:07 No one is gonna get baptized tonight here.
44:11 You'll have time to prepare.
44:13 You'll have time to review the A, B, Cs of the Bible.
44:16 It doesn't take long.
44:18 The important question is,
44:19 will you say yes to Jesus right now?
44:23 If you'd like to follow Jesus all the way in Bible baptism,
44:26 I want you to make your decision
44:28 on that response card tonight
44:29 as the row captain sends that down.
44:32 Please take that decision card
44:34 and make your choice tonight while Joey sings.
44:39 Deep in your heart
44:43 You heart His call
44:47 And deep in your heart
44:52 You long to give your all
44:58 But you're just like me
45:03 So very weak and small
45:09 And you fear to be beneath the water
45:23 Beneath the water, is the dying place
45:35 Beneath the water, awaits amazing grace
45:46 Beneath the water, you die to be born again
45:59 Your life just begins beneath the water
46:12 Let us pray together.
46:14 Precious Savior, I want to thank You
46:16 for touching our hearts tonight.
46:19 And for whispering this is the way.
46:23 Lord, if there's any individual who hasn't responded,
46:26 may they do so during this prayer.
46:27 I want to thank You though for playing
46:29 sensitively over our hearts during this message tonight.
46:33 We feel the tug of God to commit our lives to You
46:37 and as each one here has responded
46:39 and is making their choice,
46:41 Lord, would you just smile down upon them
46:43 with heaven's choicest blessings.
46:47 May they feel Your tender hand
46:49 and accept Your forgiveness for their sins
46:53 and determine that each tomorrow
46:54 is going to be a day of victory and rejoicing knowing
46:58 we've made our eternal decision to choose Jesus.
47:03 To follow and accept His life and His burial
47:06 and His resurrection for us, following His example.
47:10 While our heads are bowed,
47:11 I want you to just look at your little card there
47:13 and respond with me, would you?
47:15 I hope every one here tonight,
47:17 whether you're a church member or not,
47:19 will check that first one,
47:21 "I believe the Bible teaching
47:23 that a person must choose to be baptized
47:26 and surrender to Jesus."
47:27 Put a check there.
47:29 Then number two, there are several options here.
47:31 "I desire to be ready
47:33 when Jesus comes and I look forward to..."
47:36 Some of you may want to choose this one.
47:37 Being baptized like Jesus real soon.
47:41 There may be individuals here
47:42 who want to take the step of being re-baptized.
47:47 You'd want to check the second one.
47:49 And then third, some of you might
47:51 already be baptized Christians
47:53 but you'd like to become a part of God's special commandment
47:56 keeping people by profession of your faith.
47:59 You could check that third box onto that second area.
48:03 Then notice the third option, the big box.
48:05 "I desire special prayer to make my decision..."
48:08 A request and interview with the counselor.
48:10 We'd be happy to get in touch with you,
48:12 or we can meet you over here at our hospitality center.
48:15 Make that choice right now and then return it
48:18 in the containers as Joey sings.
48:21 Beneath the water, is the dying place
48:33 Beneath the water, awaits amazing grace
48:44 Beneath the water, you die to be born again
48:56 Your life just begins beneath the water
49:10 There may be some of you who have questions,
49:12 or you want special prayer for habits
49:14 or victory in your lives.
49:15 We're gonna be praying for each one of you.
49:18 We'd like to specially invite you though
49:19 to meet our counselors afterwards tonight
49:21 in the hospitality center right here
49:23 so we can pray for you.
49:26 I want you to remember that tomorrow night
49:28 is a subject that has created many, many questions
49:32 in the minds of people today with the series
49:37 that so many have been reading about, Tim Lahaye.
49:41 What about the rapture? What about the great escape?
49:46 Be sure to join us.
49:48 Here on our local location here,
49:49 many of you want to slip over to the hospitality center,
49:52 some of the heritage singers will be there,
49:53 and they also will be providing their materials for sale.
49:56 We'd like to remind you that we want you to bring
50:00 your friends tomorrow night.
50:01 My brother will be here and for the first time,
50:03 and probably the only time in this series,
50:05 I will be singing on the platform.
50:07 We're gonna have a little mini concert beforehand.
50:09 So you come early.
50:11 Thank you very much for coming tonight.
50:13 Remember as we close our broadcast every day,
50:15 friend, God really does love you.
50:20 Amen. Good night, everyone.