Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Keys to the Kingdom

All scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.
Matthew 16:15-19  After the Lord Jesus asked His disciples who men said He was, "He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." The Lord gave Apostle Peter, "the keys of the kingdom of heaven," and told Peter that whatever he bound or loosed on earth the same would be done in heaven.

The Roman Catholic church has taken Jesus' words to Peter and run with them. It has always been a mystery to me why they claim Apostle Peter to be the first pope and yet fail to do as Peter did on the Day of Pentecost. Peter told his hearers that they should repent and be baptized in Jesus name for the remission of sins and they would receive the promised gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38 is truly the first instance in the Bible where anybody was told what they needed to do to be saved. One may ask, "what about Matthew 28:19?" I would remind you that the Lord never said to Matthew (or Mark, Luke or John for that matter), "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." In Acts 15:7 Apostle Peter reminded the brethren that it was God's choice to make known by his mouth, the gospel to the Gentiles. In that instance Peter commanded Cornelius and his household, after they had received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, to be baptized in Jesus name. (See Acts 10:46-48)

The word of God is all we need to understand how baptism was to be administered in the early church. However, I well remember my mother telling me, shortly after my conversion, what had happened when my brother Joe and stepsister Geneal were about to join a local Baptist church in Puyallup, Washington. As I recall, my brother was about 18 years old while my stepsister was 23 or 24, or maybe 25.   They were both very sincere in their desire to serve the Lord Jesus. When they told my mother of their intention to be baptized into the Baptist church, my mother, who although backslidden, was staunchly Oneness in her belief, was terribly upset. As hard as she tried she could not convince my brother or step-sister that they should be baptized in Jesus name according to Acts 2:38 and not in the titles, according to Matthew 28:19. My mother liked to listen to classical music on the radio and had the radio tuned to a classical station playing in the background. Suddenly the classical music faded out and a male voice came on in its place. The male voice quoted the scripture found in Acts 2:38, "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." Later when I asked my brother about the incident, he very clearly said, "John, it really happened." Later my brother Joe went on to be a UPCI preacher.

If you are a believer and you have never been baptized in Jesus name, let me encourage you to find someone who will baptize you the same way the early church administered baptism. Let me be clear, no preacher can save you. Only the Lord Jesus can be your Saviour. The Apostle Paul said in 1st Corinthians 3:6-9, "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase." He went on to explain that neither he that plants nor he that waters are anything, "... but God that giveth the increase."  If you are a preacher who is reading this post, when you baptise a new convert in Jesus name you become one with the apostles and then, and only then, do you become a co-laborer with God. No, it was not until the Apostle Peter used the keys to the kingdom he had been given were men able to be saved. But it still takes the Lord Jesus to turn the key and unlock the door.

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