Welcome to the footnote¹ blog. Our goal each day is to examine a verse and give a short summary in commentary form or simply an encouraging note to help you remain faithful to God throughout the week. Either way we hope that the footnote¹ blog will comfort you through God's word and give you a better understanding of His will.
“Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (Rev. 2.6, ESV)
Many people believe it does not matter what one believes. Specifically speaking, one will say that it does not matter since we all believe in Jesus and beyond that, we are all on the way to heaven, just taking different paths. However, are there multiple paths to heaven (see John 14.6)?
Interestingly, one will not find the mindset that it does not matter in Scripture. In fact, the Bible calls for unity of believers (John 17.20-23), unity of doctrine (Eph. 4.1-6), and claims that only the truth will set us free (John 8.32) – while error will damn us to hell (2 Thess. 2.10-12).
Jesus answers the error of taking the position that one may believe whatever they will if Jesus is forefront in their life by commending the church at Ephesus for hating the doctrine (or teachings) of the Nicolaitans (cf. Rev. 2.15) – an apostate group of people misleading the disciples. If one can believe whatever doctrine – regardless of whether it is biblical or not, and still be faithful to God, why did Jesus hate the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, and why did the church at Ephesus reject them?
We contend it is because one can believe a lie and be damned. Have you believed a lie? How would you know? You can test all Bible teachers against God’s word (Acts 17.11; 1 Thess. 5.21; 1 John 4.1, etc.), including this writer.
Here is one example. Many teach baptism does not save. Have you heard this? Do you believe it? Notice the apostle Peter’s words (a spokesmen and messenger of Jesus Christ): “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3.21, ESV).
- The Bible teaches that baptism saves (Mark 16.16; Acts 2.38; 22.16, etc.).
- Many men say baptism does not save.
- Which one is the truth? Which source will you listen to? Will you believe a lie?
“…for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt. 26.28, ESV)
In instituting the Lord’s Supper, Jesus told His disciples to divide amongst themselves the fruit of the vine which represented His blood which He shed on the cross for our sins. At this point, He had not yet voluntarily poured out His blood, but He explained to them that His blood would be “of the covenant” and “for the forgiveness of sins.”
By “of the covenant,” Jesus meant that His blood would enact the New Testament, or New Covenant, as the Old Covenant was to be done away with at the cross (Col. 2.14; Eph. 2.14-16, etc.). Therefore, we are to live in obedience to the covenant of Christ (His law) and no longer submit to the Law of Moses.
By “for the forgiveness of sins,” Jesus meant that His blood would be the cleansing power necessary to wash away our sins (cf. Rev. 1.5; 1 Peter 1.2, 18-19, etc.) and to purchase the church (Acts 20.28).
When do we have our sins washed away? Peter preached, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…” (Acts 2.38). Notice how baptism accomplishes exactly what Jesus’ blood would accomplish – forgiveness of sins. Consequently, when we are baptized into Christ (Rom. 6.3-4; Gal. 2.26-27; Eph. 5.26-27), we are washed in His cleansing blood. Ananias told Saul, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” (Acts 22.16)
While all men are accountable to the new covenant, not all men will experience forgiveness of sins. That is because the promise of forgiveness of sins is only found in obedience to the new covenant.
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’” (Rev. 14.13, ESV)
Let us focus on dying in the Lord. First, to “die in the Lord” one has to first be in the Lord. Paul tells us that we are baptized into the Lord: “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3.26-27). Secondly, to die in the Lord one has to remain faithful unto death. Jesus said, “…the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13.13). Thirdly, to die in the Lord one has to be a diligent worker. Paul taught, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15.58). Next, to die in the Lord means one will be an example to all. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6.11-12). What kind of influence will you be after you die? Hopefully, people will see the deeds we did for the Lord and continue in them!
Finally, to die in the Lord means one will rest from their labors. What a wonderful joy to look forward to!
“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6.6, ESV).
The Bible calls all who have been born again to put the old man of sin to death and to put on the new man of righteousness (see Eph. 4.22, 24; Col. 3.9-10).
Paul taught that this putting off and putting on happens in baptism. Notice: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6.3-6).
It is only when we are raised with Christ after being buried with Him that we can “walk in newness of life” having put off our “old self”.
If you have not been baptized into Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, then you are still lost in sin. Choose today to put off that old man of sin “and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4.24)!
“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4.4-6, ESV)
It is obvious that we live in a religiously divided society. A quick drive down the road shows the multiplicity of churches and religions. Whatever you like, you can be sure there’s a church that is willing to accommodate. However, was this ever God's will or did He desire something else?
Paul shows us that we are to be united. By laying out the platform for unity, we are not left to wonder how we are to maintain unity. It is by our respect for the seven “one’s” that we can truly enjoy the unity God has provided in Christ.
- One Body – There is only one church which Christ will save, that is, His church, the church (body) of Christ.: Eph. 1.21-22; 5.23; Acts 20.28; Rom. 16.16
- One Spirit – There is one spirit that has revealed one revelation (or standard) and one plan of salvation for all of mankind to follow (Eph. 3.3-4; 2 Peter 1.3-4). Since the Holy Spirit guided the apostles into all truth (John 16.13) and since they wrote down the truth for our learning, then there are no more revelations or truth to reveal (Jude 3). Anyone who claims extra-biblical revelations stands in direct opposition to the one Spirit.
- One Hope – Those who are God’s children can hope (not wishful thinking, but an expectation) in heaven and eternal life (1 Peter 1.3-4).
- One Lord – There are no other masters to be served. Jesus is the one and only with all authority and power. It is only through Him that we can be saved, no one else (John 14.6; Acts 4.12).
- One Faith – Not many faiths (as the religious world tells us there are), but only one (Jude 3). Just as there is one gospel, there is one faith! Will you be obedient to the one faith (see Acts 6.7)?
- One Baptism – Paul says there is only one baptism. Therefore, if there is water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism today, then we have one too many baptisms. Thus, the one baptism is water baptism in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. It is the only baptism commanded in Scripture (Matt. 28.18-20; Mark 16.15-16; Acts 2.38; 8.16; 10.47-48; 22.16; Rom. 6.1ff; Gal. 3.26-27, etc.). Note: Holy Spirit baptism is not for us today, but was only for the apostles (John 14-16). Additionally, baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ” is, and has always been, water baptism (see Acts 2.38, etc.).
- One God and Father – There is only one true and living God; all other gods are false, man-made “spiritual beings” or crafted from wood or stone, and created in the mind of man. God was not created, but is eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, over all, and everywhere present, and He wants to be your Father! He wants to love you and shower you with blessings!