Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cedar Tree On The Hill

The Wolfe family lived in Chesapeake, Ohio, from July, 1979, until July, 1982. We lived in the church parsonage of Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church on Buffalo Creek Road. We had a good ministry there in preaching, visiting, and learning to sing together in some groups.

At the parsonage the back yard went flat straight back and then up a hill. At the top of this hill stood a tall cedar tree. My wife and I had three little boys at that time. They loved to play in the yard around which the church had placed a chain-link fence for protection from the busy highway that lay just a few yards in front of the house.

The boys played outside in good weather, and from time to time they would climb up the hill in the back of the house and then climb up to the very top of the tall cedar tree on the top of the hill. Many times I told them to get down out of the tree so they would not fall out of the tree and break "every bone in your body."

If I told them once, I told them a hundred times to stay out of that tree. I could just see them sometime falling out of the tree and breaking a leg or an arm or both.

Then, one day while playing in the front yard, my youngest son, Chris, was climbing on the chain-link fence around the yard. It was about 4 1/2 feet high. I thought nothing of that, since they did that often. So, I never told them not to play on the fence. Yet, he fell off that fence and began to cry. He had fallen off that fence and had broken his arm.

I should have scolded the boys for climbing on the fence instead of climbing in the cedar tree. Watch out for those short fences. Pay no attention to the tree on the top of the hill. I think there is a conspiracy here somewhere.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Church And The Body

Dr. Ronnie Wolfe

It is important, I think, to be reminded often that the body of Christ and the church of Christ are the same thing.

Our Catholic friends want to make the body of Christ and the church of Christ to be the same, but theirs is a universal, visible body and church, a church of which a person must be a member in order to enter the kingdom of God.

Our Protestant friends make the body of Christ to be universal but invisible. The body of Christ, according to Protestants, includes every saved person on the earth. As to the church of Christ, Protestants admit to two churches, which is, quite frankly, confusing. On the one hand the church is a local assembly of believers, but there is another invisible church which includes all believers. It then would be synonymous to the kingdom of God and the family of God.

Even some Baptists have fallen victim to the idea that there are two churches and one universal body of Christ. This is a fallacy. The word translated church in the New Testament is a word which means "assembly." An assembly is always local, because only a local group can assemble; a universal one cannot assemble.

We must know that the body and church of Christ are the same in order to understand the truth of the matter. At least three verses in the New Testament verify the fact that the body of Christ and the church of Christ are the same.

Ephesians 1:22-23  And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,  23  Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

 In regard, then, to the meaning of the body and the church, we must see that, if the body is universal, then the church is universal; and, if the church is universal, the body is universal. If, on the other hand, the church is local, the body is local; if the body if local, then the church is local.

So, both the body and the church are local, visible entities. First Baptist Church of Harrison, Ohio, is a body of Christ, and it is a church of Christ. It is visible, and it is local, as all churches of the Lord are.

Ephesians 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Negative Side Of Baptism

Dr. Ronnie Wolfe – July 4, 2017


    Most people, especially those who are Baptist, know the positive side of baptism. Baptism is a beautiful picture, an illustration, and a memorial of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We know that it has no saving power and that it does not bring anyone near to or into the covenant of grace.

    Baptism is the act of obedience to Jesus Christ to fulfill all righteousness in our lives. A full righteousness we cannot fulfill, as Jesus did, but we can press toward the mark of the high calling of God (Phil. 3:14).

    Baptism is also a prerequisite to our being a member of a local church. Three thousand were born again, baptized, and added to the local church at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. When baptism is done scripturally, it satisfies this requirement for church membership, and the candidate for scriptural baptism, upon his baptism, becomes a member of a local church with all rights and privileges of any other church member.

The Negative Side Of Baptism

    Besides being an act of obedience to Jesus Christ, baptism also has a negative aspect attached to it. The act of baptism not only symbolized our faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but it is also a symbol of our turning away from our own righteousness to the perfect and completely fulfilled righteousness of Jesus Christ.

        Romans 10:3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
        Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

    Our own righteousness is filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Therefore, we must turn away from our own righteousness and trust the righteousness, the perfect obedience and purity of our Savior, Jesus Christ – 1 Peter 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

John’s Baptism

    John the Baptist said to many who came to him for baptism in Matthew 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.  A change of heart must exist in a candidate for scriptural baptism. John refused to baptize anyone who did not show evidence of that changed heart.

    The baptismal candidates in John’s day were also to turn from their Judaism to a freer way of life, a life that was ordered by the Spirit of God and the freedom of conscience to serve the Lord Jesus Christ through the word of God and through love and not through obligation.

    This is the negative side of baptism. Baptism is illustrative of a complete change of life, for we read in Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
    In scriptural, water baptism, the candidate is raised symbolically from death unto life in reference to the death of Jesus Christ, in symbolism to Christ’s literal death, burial, and resurrection with no spiritual merit upon the soul from the water, only a real and apparent merit in the real and literal work of Christ in his perfect life and his substitutionary death and his resurrection.

The Case Of Circumcision

    After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the meaning and purpose of circumcision faded away, and there was no further need for circumcision. The New Testament is very clear that circumcision has no meaning to New Testament believers – 1 Corinthians 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

    Circumcision was a strict order under the law of Moses as we read in Romans 2:25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Since we are not under the law (Romans 6:14), we are, then, no longer obliged to circumcision.

    Baptism, then, especially to the Jew in New Testament days, was performed as an act against the need for circumcision, and yet it was not a replacement for circumcision, as some say. Circumcision was a mark of distinction for the Jews as against the Gentile world; so baptism is a mark of distinction against circumcision and against the world and is for Jew and Gentile alike, being made one by the Spirit of God, the middle wall’s having been broken down between us (Ephesians 2:14).

An Illustration Of Repentance

    Baptism is not only a looking forward to a new life in Christ (Romans 6:4), but it is also a turning away from that which is behind us, that which was bondage to us and was a hindrance to our coming to the Lord in faith; that is, our works, our human and evil mind, depraved by our sinfulness totally so that we could not attain to the righteousness of God.

    The negative side of baptism here is that we have turned our backs on our former life; and, whether we have had a life that is good in men’s eyes or a life that is evil in men’s eyes, the need for salvation by grace was then prevalent and necessary, for with men it is impossible, . . . but with God all things are possible (Matthew 10:27).

    The moment a candidate for baptism is immersed in the water, submerged beneath the water, and emerges from the water, he is to walk in newness of life and to forget those things were before – Philippians 3:13-14  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.


    In this short and incomplete article on the negative side of baptism, we see the importance in knowing that baptism in symbol pulls us from the world, turns us symbolically in a new direction in public profess of our faith in Christ with the understanding and the attitude that we should be repenting from our sins on a consistent basis and serving the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:24).

    In the positive side of baptism, one joins himself to a local assembly of believers who are come together to serve Jesus Christ according to the pattern laid down in the New Testament, and the negative side of baptism encourages us to never turn again to the weak and beggarly elements of the world to serve the devil or the world (Galatians 4:9).

    May God prick our hearts to steadfastly stand for our faith, being baptized as a sign of our commitment to Christ and his commandments to be obeyed with love in our hearts. May we be true to our own church, through which God received the glory; and may God be honored and Jesus be glorified in our efforts to turn away from our former life to live in our new life in Christ. There is so much to be gained by obeying and so to lose by disobeying.