Elijah's Return

Elijah's Return

Scripture: Malachi 4:5-6, Luke 1:17, Matthew 17:11-13
Date: 09/21/2006 
What does the last Old Testament prophecy of Elijah returning mean? The Bible teaches that John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah. There is no greater prophet for he introduced the Messiah. We too must hear the call of Elijah to our hearts and turn to Jesus. Baptism symbolizes our commitment to Christ.

Preparation for Baptism DVD by Doug Batchelor

Preparation for Baptism DVD by Doug Batchelor
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Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome again tonight. We're ready for Pastor Doug to come out, but we'd like to sing first. And so Pastor John, come on out and sing with us. Let's all stand together and sing our theme song.

You know The Song, "give me the Bible." Let's all sing that together... Remain standing tonight. We have pastor ron whitehead who's going to lead us before the throne of grace in prayer. Let's bow our heads together. Father God, it's always good to talk to you.

We always have time for you, Lord, because you have time for us. Tonight, as we gather all over the globe to seek a greater knowledge of you, we ask for your presence to be with us. Give us that knowledge that will prepare us for your soon return. And all the people said, "amen." Amen. You maybe seated.

Thank you, pastor ron. Pastor ron is the assistant to the president at andrews university for spiritual life. Glad to have him with us tonight along with our musicians. I wish you could have heard this morning when Pastor Doug took us to Mark 2 and the breathtaking story of the healing of the paralytic. God has gifted our speaker tonight with the ability to just draw in such rich ways from such ancient stories.

And I know you were blessed, those of you who were here this morning. He's back here tonight, and so let's just cut to the chase, get to that q & a time. How about a warm welcome for Pastor Doug Batchelor, "most amazing prophecies" speaker. Thank you. Good evening.

Nice to have you back, Pastor Doug. Thanks for inviting me. This question was just handed to me. Okay? This is a brand-new question. "Why is it, Pastor Doug, that your face--why is that your face has an extra glow tonight that we haven't seen before?" I thought he was gonna say, "well how come my face isn't on any American currency.

" I didn't know what he was gonna say. I think this is his way of giving me the opportunity to introduce mrs. Batchelor. Where do you--sitting? Oh, there you are. Karen, come up here.

Let them just see you, dear. There she is. Ladies and gentlemen, a warm welcome, Karen Batchelor. Very thankful that Karen is here. She was here with me 10 years ago, and we have the two youngest of the Batchelor tribe.

And I think they're with the children's departments right now. We asked them to dress up and come hear dad preach but we couldn't talk them into it, so-- tomorrow. Yeah, tomorrow. We'll do that tomorrow or the next day. You'll get to meet them.

But, thank you, dear. We're so glad you're here. Welcome, Karen, good to have you here. I'll tell you, I love her name. Give me a high five for both of us having the good fortune to being married to a Karen.

Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Do you know that name's in the Bible. The name Karen is in the Bible? Yeah, you didn't know that? I did not. The daughters of job.

One of them's called Karen hoppic. Look it up into the book of job. I'm gonna start using that name around the house. I like that. Doug is in the Bible too.

Doug is in the Bible? D-u-g. Oh, yeah. That's right. I read about you. You are one of the amazing prophecies.

All right, all right. "I wonder something about what Pastor Doug said in tonight's lecture. Although, he gave many good Scriptures to support the idea that we don't actually move on until the first or second coming, Jesus, himself, says something to the one hanging on the cross beside him, to one of the men, the thief, Luke 23, we know this verse 43, Jesus says to him, 'this day you will come with me to paradise.' Now notice this, the norwegian version translated by me." So this is somebody reading a norwegian Bible. This was e-mailed into us from norway. "Can this be, if the sinner isn't to be resurrected before the second coming of Christ? How could he be in paradise with the thief that day? Good question.

A lot of people, when they wonder about the sequence of when they go to heaven, they point to the experience in Luke 23 where Jesus says to the thief, presumably on his right hand, "verily I say unto thee, today thou shalt be with me in paradise." The solution for this verse is a very simple one. Keep in mind in the original Greek, there is no punctuation. Putting the punctuation in the right place makes a world of difference. The way that verse should be--and also, the Scriptures are inspired but translators, anyone can do their own translation from one language to the next. The translators chose to put the comma where they did so it reads that you go right to heaven because that's what the church was teaching during the dark ages.

But it really should read, "verily I see unto you today, you will be with me in paradise." The emphasis being, "I am telling you today. You're going to be there with me." "Now Pastor Doug, how do you know that?" When Jesus rises from the dead Sunday morning, and mary grabs him by the feet, he says, "do not cling to me." the King James says, "do not touch me"; but it's better translated, "don't cling to me." In other words, "don't keep me from going 'cause I have not yet ascended to my father." Now, how could Jesus have been in paradise with the thief Friday afternoon if he had not gone to be with his father yet by Sunday morning? I heard a story one time, back before they had telephone and e-mail when they were still using telegraph, that a very wealthy businessman in New York, his wife was in paris doing some shopping. And she sent him a telegram and said, "found this mink or fox coat that I would like to buy and it costs $2,000." And he sent back a telegraph. And it said, "no price too high." So she bought it. And it could have been selective reading.

We're not sure. Took the cruise ship home, got off the boat and there he was to meet her at the dock. And she's sporting this very lavish fox coat. And after hugging her he said, "you bought the coat." And she said, "well, you told me, 'no price too high.'" He said, "I said, 'no, price too high.'" They left out the comma 'cause you used to pay for every letter back then. They gave a totally opposite meaning.

And everything fits together if you put the comma where it belongs in that translation. Very good. "This is my first time attending a prophecy seminar. I was raised catholic and want to know if there is anything I can do to secure my family's salvation?" That's a good question, a heartfelt question. The first and best and most important thing you can do for the one's you love is make sure that you get your roots down.

The more grounded you are in your relationship with Jesus and in the truth, the better you will exude that in your life, and then you'll be able to share with them. So I would encourage this person to be praying for your family. Ask for tact and grace to share things with them. When Pastor Doug first learned the things that I'm sharing with you, I came after my family just loaded for bear. I mean, I didn't have a lot of tact.

I think I scared them. And so you want to pray that you can be tactful and diplomatic and Christ-like as you present these things in bites that they can digest. And let them see Christ in your life, and they'll want what you have. If you've got the joy of the Lord, everybody wants happiness and so demonstrate it. "Why do you jump all over the Bible and not get the meaning of its message in its setting?" In the context.

Well, I do hope the Scriptures I'm quoting are not being quoted out of context. But because we are using so many proof texts for a point in a seminar like this, the Bible tells us as we study in Isaiah, it says, "here a little, there a little, line upon line, precept upon precept, comparing Scripture with Scripture." And so that's the way to do research and Bible study: in the mouth of two or three witnesses or more. That'd be a minimum. And so we are taking each point of truth and we're going through a myriad of verses to support those points. It's like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.

You need the full picture. "Who are the souls crying out for justice under the altar in Revelation 6? Who are those souls?" Yes, it tells us, in the book of Revelation, about these souls that are under the altar and they're crying out saying, "how long, o Lord?" They're crying for justice and vindication. And some are saying, "well there obviously--there are souls that are conscious in heaven." Think about that. These are the souls of the saved. Do you think that God has souls of the saved that are crying out? Unhappily, obvious.

You know, you read that vision there in Revelation 6, they're very unhappy. So it's an allegory of vindication. Justice is calling for vindication. Another example would be in Genesis 4 when cain kills abel, God says, "the blood of your brother cries to me from the ground." Do blood cells call or is it symbolic that justice is calling out for vindication? "You seem to lump all out-of-body experiences as false. What about Paul's out-of-body trip?" Well, when I talked about the out-of-body experiences, I'm talking about those who claim to have died on the operating table, not those who are taken off in vision.

Paul, Daniel, the vision of John. Paul said, he was caught up to the third heaven. He actually doesn't say it was him. He said, "I knew a man," but we believe; most scholars believe he's talking about himself. They were taken in the Spirit.

Now, their bodies didn't die, and they were taken off and shown things in vision. I am not saying that God can't speak to somebody that has a near death experience. I believe that he can. I think God can speak to people through a dream. You don't have to die for God to speak to you.

It doesn't mean what you dream becomes biblical truth and we base our theology on what you dreamed. God might be saying something to you, personally, in your own vernacular. When I first began to learn the Bible truth and I was up in my cave, I got so excited about the idea of Jesus coming, I had a dream. And I dreamed Jesus came down through the clouds driving a bumper car. Now, you're thinking that's--that was a dream just for me because in my youth, I always felt like I equated the ultimate happiness when you could go to the bumper car at the carnival and you didn't run out of time.

To me, it was the greatest fun. So when Jesus came in a bumper car, that was just between me and Jesus. I'm not gonna preach a sermon on that. Well, I guess I just did. Way to go, pastor.

Okay, last night's was a heavy subject. You presented--you took us deep into the prophecy. So here's a question that comes out of our subject last evening. That was on the antiChrist, if you missed it. "If the papacy is the antiChrist, does the pope realize this or is he aware that the power he holds will cause the end of times?" Well, as we continue studying this subject, you see, through prophecy, that this antiChrist power has a prominent role in the final scenario of events.

Personally, I don't think that the principle leadership in the church are aware of these things. I think many of them are very sincere and have the best of intentions. And pastor dwight and I were talking as we went over the questions. We're confident they'll be a number of popes in the Kingdom as well as millions of people who are part of the catholic church. We're talking about a system of teaching that drifted from the Bible just like it happened in the old testament among God's people with the northern kingdoms.

There were a lot of people in the northern kingdom that were God's people. Elijah was from the northern kingdom as was Elisha, the prophet, subject for our study tonight. But the people, as a nation, had drifted into idolatry and paganism. This is something that happened to the church during the dark ages. Thank you, pastor.

We'll get more tomorrow night. Oh, thank you, pastor dwight. Our study tonight is dealing with the return of Elijah. And it's one of the most amazing prophecies in the Bible. Again, I'd like to just begin with an amazing fact that corresponds with our study.

And it has to do with the Jordan river. I've had the privilege of being in the promised land a couple of times, at least the old earthly version, the land of Israel. And it meant a lot to me, not only because I'm a Christian because of my Jewish heritage. It was very inspiring. I, frankly, was a little disappointed when I first saw the Jordan river because I pictured, you know, you hear all these songs about the mighty Jordan roll.

And I thought of something like the amazon or the Mississippi, this big mighty river and if you could throw a rock across it. It wasn't much of a river. But it is one of the most unique pieces of geography in the Bible. And it has to do with--it goes from the mountains of lebanon, thousands of feet above sea level, all the way down to 1,300 feet below sea level. It's the lowest place in the world where the Jordan runs.

The Jordan was the border that separated the promised land from the wilderness. The way they entered the promised land was they crossed the Jordan. The Jordan is where naaman was washed seven times and he was cleansed from his leprosy. And the Jordan was a place where there was a lot of ministry for Elijah, the prophet. Now, I'd like to take you to our opening Scripture, our most amazing prophecy is the last prophecy in the old testament.

So why don't you go there with me to Malachi 4 and we'll read it in our Bibles. Malachi 4 and, I think it's right there on your screen for you... "Behold I send you Elijah the prophet." Now, this was a very amazing prophecy. Matter of fact, when Jesus began his ministry, the religious leaders came and they said, "are you Elijah?" They knew Elijah was coming back. Some of them thought maybe it would be a reincarnation.

But to really understand this, we need to go back and look at the life of Elijah. He was one of God's great prophets. He prayed and it did not rain for 3 1/2 years and God fed him with ravens in a miraculous way. He also prayed another time, fire came down from heaven and burnt up this sacrifice from a cloudless sky. The Bible tells us that he prayed seven times and then the rain storm came.

He prayed another time, fire came down and burnt up an army that had come to arrest him. Matter of fact, that happened twice. The third army that came after him humbled themselves and he said, "all right, then. I'll go with you." Mighty prophet of God; made Kings tremble. Elijah would come again.

Was that a reincarnation? To understand what the Scripture means about the Elijah return, you need to look back at the first one who came in the Spirit and power of Elijah. The Bible tells us that after Elijah left Mount Sinai, he had been in the wilderness, that he was told by the Lord to call to choose an apprentice. And his name was very much like Elijah's. It's Elisha. The name Elijah means, my God.

Elijah, elohim, God is jehovah. And Elisha's name is God is Savior. One was Elijah, God is jehovah. The other one is el yeshua, God is Savior. It's like the name of Jesus.

He put his mantle on Elisha. Elisha was The Son of a rich farmer. He left everything, started following Elijah. And after he had been trained in ministry under the greatest prophet, when Elijah went to heaven in a fiery chariot, they crossed the Jordan river, in a miraculous way, it parted. And the two of them went across the Jordan, came up dry on the other side.

You know what made the Jordan part? They took the mantle of Elijah and they struck the water. It's a type of the righteousness of Christ. What is it that allows us to cross death? It's the robe of Christ, isn't it? The Jordan, in the Bible, represents death and burial. Baptism took place in the Jordan river. When the children of Israel came out of Egypt, the way they got into the promised land from the wilderness is they had to cross the Jordan.

Most people, to get to heaven, are gonna have to go through the Jordan. Most people have to die, don't they? So the Jordan is understood--by the way, it's the lowest river in the world, goes into the dead sea-- they cross a Jordan. It's a symbol of death. And when he struck the waters, Elijah struck the waters with his robe. Later Elisha struck the Jordan with his robe.

It parted and worked a miracle where they could cross over and come up dry and clean on the other side. So we went to heaven in a fiery chariot. And Elisha asked Elijah before he left, he said, "let a double portion of your spirit be upon me." And God answered his prayer and a double portion of Elijah's spirit was given to Elisha. And Elisha ministered also around the Jordan river. Some of you remember the story where an ax head sank and he prayed then it floated in the Jordan.

Now I want you to fast forward 800 years. An old priest named Zechariah is ministering in the temple before the altar of incense and an angel appears. And that angel, gabriel, tells him that he's gonna have a son. Like Abraham and elizabeth, this couple, Zechariah and--I'm sorry like Abraham and sara. Zechariah and his wife, elizabeth, are gonna have this miraculous baby in their old age.

And it says, "he will go before him in the Spirit and the power of Elijah." So we are, right now, beginning to find out who it is that came in the Spirit and power of Elijah. It was not the reincarnation. Please don't think it's the reincarnation of Elijah. John the baptist was going to come in the Spirit and power of Elijah. Matter of fact, some of you have wondered, when the religious leaders came to John and they said, "are you Elijah?" He said, "no.

" Because what they were asking is, "are you Elijah resurrected?" They were asking the wrong question. No, he wasn't. God doesn't teach reincarnation. But did John come in the Spirit and power of Elijah, the same way Elisha had a double portion of Elijah's spirit? Yes. It's a spirit of revival and reform and dedication.

And it says that the rest of that prophecy, Luke 1:17, "his ministry would be to turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the just and to make ready a people prepared for the Lord, to prepare people to meet God." And that is the most important part of our study tonight, to prepare people to meet Christ when we comes in peace. Jesus said something astounding. Of all the great prophets in the Bible, speaking of John the baptist, he said, "of them who are born among women, there is no greater than John the baptist." Wow. Moses, Abraham, Elijah and Jesus hold forth John the baptist. Part of that is because the work of John the baptist was the greatest work in introducing--he was the emcee for the Messiah.

He introduced the Messiah. He was the one who said after thousands of years of the sacrificial system, "drum roll, there he is, the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world." And John the baptist had the privilege of baptizing Jesus and watching him be anointed with the Holy Spirit to begin his ministry. He is one of the greatest because of his--his ministry was so great. I thought it was interesting just as a little, additional amazing fact; 2004, they found this cave just near the banks of the Jordan river. And they're claiming--one english archaeologist says he believes that it was the haunt of John the baptist.

And within the cave, they've actually got a cistern where it appears that they did baptizing the artifacts that were covered do date back to the time of John the baptist. And I guess there's some sketching on the wall of someone--a bearded character who--you know, John the baptist, the Bible says he was a little eccentric by our standards. He wore camel skin and a leather belt just like Elijah. And so i, you know, most archeologists think it may be a dubious or questionable discovery, but it's still interesting to think about. Jesus said, "if you have any doubts about John the baptist being Elijah's--Elijah's return--he wasn't Elijah reincarnated 'cause Elijah's in heaven now.

Jesus said, Matthew 11:14, "and if you're willing to receive it, he, John, John the baptist, is Elijah who is to come." And if that's not enough from Matthew 11, go to Matthew 17. Jesus said it twice. Jesus answered and said to them, this is verses 11-13, "indeed Elijah is coming--" now don't miss this. He says, "Elijah is coming," future tense. "And will restore all things.

But I say unto you that Elijah has come already and they did not know him. Then the disciples understood that he spoke to them of John the baptist." That tells us that there is another return of Elijah before the second coming. Others will come or another will come in the Spirit and power of Elijah. The same way that John the baptist prepared the world for Jesus' first coming, I believe there's an Elijah message that will prepare the world for Jesus second coming. Amen? And I'd like to hope I'm part of that and what we're doing here and pastor dwight and other ministers sharing the three angels' message.

Now, what are some of the ways that John the baptist was like Elijah? Let's go back again. Think about this. During the time of Elijah, the old testament, a wicked queen named jezebel tried to destroy him during a time period of 3 1/2 years. You know, John the baptist ministered during the time of Christ. Jesus ministered 3 1/2 years, and a wicked queen named herodias ultimately had his head on a silver platter.

A lot of parallels between the two. They were both living in the wilderness. Elijah fled into the wilderness. They discipled people. They worked by the Jordan river.

Now, if we're gonna talk about John the baptist and his great ministry and if we're gonna take the statements of what Jesus said and how important they are, what is it that John the baptist did? Well, what separates him from John the apostle? He's the baptist. What do baptists do? They baptize. John baptized Jesus. It must be important. So we're gonna study this subject because when Christ was baptized he was filled with the Holy Spirit and he began a life of ministry.

Do you know God baptized his whole nation of Israel? Did you know that? It tells us there in 1 Corinthians 10 that the whole nation of Israel went through the red sea and they were baptized in the sea and later they were covered with a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. They were baptized in the water and in the Spirit, the whole nation. And then the Lord says that we must be born of the water and born of the Spirit. So let's go into our study. I want you to know how important this is.

Number one, this is prophecy is a segue for this very important subject. "Why was the baptism ministry of John so important?" Answer, Jesus speaks to us last chapter of Mark, "he that believes and is baptized shall be saved. But he that believeth not shall be damned." You notice it doesn't say, "he that is not baptized will be damned." Because we are not saved by baptism, we're saved by Jesus and by faith. But look at how the Lord did put that big emphasis on "he that believes and is baptized will be saved." It's something that he paired together. Furthermore, Jesus said in John 3:5, "most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born of the water and born of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.

" Now, some have said, "born of the water," well that means that, you know, you're in this amniotic fluid before you're born. And so that the human birth and you need to be born of the water and then born of the Spirit." No, that's not what it's talking about. Jesus is talking about baptism. Why would he say that? Let me ask a question? How many here, just wondering, were born of a woman? Why would Jesus say that? Wouldn't that be a little redundant? So when he says, "born of the water," he's talking about water baptism is your choice. Spirit baptism is God's choice.

You know, our world, before it is made new is baptized in water in the days of Noah, and it will be baptized in fire when Christ comes again and then he makes a new earth. If you want a new body, we must be born of the water and born of the Spirit just like the world. And the last words of Jesus ought to have a high priority with Christians. What did Jesus say as he ascended to heaven? "Go ye therefore and teach all nations baptizing them. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I've commanded you.

" Go and teach and baptize. It's very important to Jesus. So this is something that we ought to study. It's a priority with Christ. It should be a priority with his people.

Now some are thinking, "well, if it's that important, aren't there gonna be a lot of people in heaven that weren't baptized? What about all those people in the old testament?" That's true. But it's something that once Christ establishes something as a truth, as an ordnance, then we must embrace it if we're living during these new testament times. You might be thinking, "well, what about the thief on the cross we talked about in our questions? He accepted Jesus. Jesus said, "you'll be with me in paradise." He wasn't baptized. How could he be saved--obviously, it's symbolic.

It's not that important. Well, if a person can be baptized, they should be. He couldn't be. Periodically, I'll go visit somebody in the hospital and they're on their deathbed. And I do my best whenever I can to lead a person who hasn't yet made their decision to accept Christ.

And I have seen people in their final hours accept Jesus. One brother who was dying of aids on his deathbed, basically, all these hospital tubes and equipment, asked Jesus into his heart. And I prayed with him, and I hope to see him in the Kingdom. He couldn't be baptized. Sometimes in prison, a person on death row, can the Lord forgive someone who's even guilty of murder? Yeah, that's not the unpardonable sin.

They've accepted Jesus, they've asked for forgiveness, but the prison, because of security, will not accommodate a baptism. Is baptism to be an obstacle to their salvation? But how can they get credit? Why was Jesus baptized? Was he baptized for his sin? No. Christ was baptized for several reasons. One an example for you and me. I'll talk about that later.

But Jesus was also baptized as--to give credit for those who cannot be. For instance, did Christ die for his sin or for yours and mine? For ours. So the baptism of Jesus certainly inaugurated his ministry. But even more than that, he was an example. But even more than that, Christ, since he was not baptized for his sin, those who can't be baptized because they're on a cross or in a hospital or in a prison, Jesus will give them credit for his baptism.

But if you can be and you're not, you're putting aside something Jesus says he commands us to do. Amen? He says this is a priority for believers. James 4:17, "therefore to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." If you know it's something God asked us to do, we should do it. Number three, "there are many ordinances that are called baptism these days. Isn't any one of these acceptable provided a person is sincere and earnest about it?" Does it need to be the biblical method of baptism? What are some of these other ordinances? Well, maybe you've heard, a lot of churches teach water baptism is just a symbol.

What really matters is Holy Spirit baptism. You don't really need water baptism. Others say, "you can be baptized by pouring oil. It's the same as anointing." They'll pour oil. Some teach you pour salt.

Others do rose petals. Some baptized by immersion three times, once for The Father, once for The Son, once for the Holy Spirit. They've got all these different things that they call baptism these days. Did I mention the rose petals. That one surprised me.

Sprinkling and pouring and then some people tell evangelists and others, they'll say, "you can get baptized other the phone. Just call us or touch your tv." That's what you call the dry cleaning method. But do any of these things-- are they all valid? What did Jesus say? Ephesians 4:5, "there is--", say it with me, "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." Now, that means there's one baptism, one truth we are baptized into, one Christ. But I believe there's one biblical method of baptism. We only find one kind of baptism in the Bible, one type.

What is the word "baptism" even mean? It's coming from a Greek word "baptizo" and that word means "to dip", "to immerse", to "plunge under water", and a person to be completely buried in the water. They find that word frequently in ancient Greek literature. The same word you find in the Bible, "baptizo," and it was used by the cloth industry when they wanted to die cloth. It says that they would take a stick and they would plunge the cloth under so it would penetrate every fiber in the cloth, and it was baptizo, the same word. It was immersed in the dye.

There's no question about what the word means. Now, if you're in doubt, what is a Christian but a follower of Jesus, amen? Do what Jesus did and you're always safe. What did Jesus do? How was Jesus baptized? That's our next question. If we follow his example, we know we're on the right track. Mark 1:9, it says, "Jesus came and was baptized of John in Jordan and straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened.

" He went down into the water, he came up out of the water. And, again, you can read Matthew 3:1... Now, if sprinkling or pouring is appropriate, did John need a river? Matter of fact, you can read in the Gospel of John 3:23, "and John also was baptizing in aenon near salim, because there was much--" what does it say? "Much water there." Why did he pick that spot? 'Cause he could fill a canteen and sprinkle people? No. There was much water there and they came and they were baptized. It's very clear in the Bible, everyone who is baptized, they were immersed and it represented a total envelopment of water.

And some might be thinking, "does it really matter, Pastor Doug? I mean, because it's a symbol." And it is a symbol. But do the symbols matter? I was disappointed. A preacher that I really respect, I sometimes listen to on the radio. I heard him say one time, "since it's just a symbol," he said, "you know, you can go out and you can get hamburgers and coca-cola for communion." Where, you know, the Bible says it's just to be unleavened bread and unfermented grape juice. And here this pastor is saying, "ah, it doesn't matter.

It's just a symbol." Go get big macs and coca-cola as the type of the body and the blood of Jesus? How can a hamburger be a type of the body of Christ? The more hamburgers you eat, the less Christ-like you look. So I don't even know how you can tie those two together. I was disappointed. I think that's sacrilegious. I think we need to stick with the symbols that Christ gives us because it's the Word of God.

He's God. He means what he says. Number five, "but didn't the disciples or the apostles change the method of baptism? When Philip went to baptize the Ethiopian treasurer, who had just come from worshipping in Jerusalem, he accepted Jesus. How was he baptized? It says, "and they went both down into the water, and Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." And it says in verse 39, "then when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away." Is it clear again, the Bible example of baptism? There's many. They went down into the water.

They came up out of the water. It represented a whole cleansing. Now, it's very likely that John the baptist was friends with the essenes. The essenes were a very strict religious group that lived near the dead sea. They've excavated their community and one of the central parts of their community was their baptistery that you got down into.

And so everybody, back then, understood, especially in a desert where water is so precious-- if they could do it with less, you'd do it with less, right? But even in the desert, they said, "no. Immersion." That was the method. Number six, "who introduced so many of these unbiblical methods of baptism that become so prevalent and popular?" Well, I think we're all suspicious of the answer already. Matthew 15:9, Jesus said, "but in vain do they worship me teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." A lot of these things are just commandments of men. And again, Mark 7:8, "for laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men," Jesus said.

Christ is telling us, we need to stick with the commandments of God. Say, "amen." Please. Thank you very much. Another example. Even up to the first century.

Here's a picture of a church that was excavated in Philippi from the first century. What's the central thing in the church? It's a baptistery that they had right in the middle of the church. A matter of fact, right up 'til over a thousand years after the beginning of the Christian era, they were baptizing by immersion. Here's a church in rome and the whole church is built around a baptistery not made for sprinkling, but made for getting in. You can read from the history books, it's something that is very easy to uncover.

If you want to do a little research, you'll quickly see that immersion was the method of baptism... And again, from the Bible scholar, dean stanley, from Christian institutions... It's something that came slowly over time. "Now, Pastor Doug, are you telling me thousands of people who are listening now, probably tens of thousands who are listening now in english or spanish or portuguese were baptized, maybe as babies, maybe by sprinkling? Are you saying that my baptism isn't valid? All these years, I've loved the Lord and thought I was baptized." God knows your heart. He knows you're sincere.

Jesus was dedicated as a baby in the temple. And your parents, really what they did is they dedicated you. But Jesus was baptized at 30 by his choice. It's something you must choose. And that leads us easily into question number seven.

"What must a person do to prepare for baptism?" What are some of the criteria? How do you get ready for baptism? Well, first of all, answer, a, "we must understand the teachings of Jesus." Jesus said, "go ye therefore teach and baptize." So there's some teaching, some intellectual cognitive understanding that you must embrace before baptism. B, not only know what the truth is, accept and believe all the teachings of Jesus. Jesus said, "teaching them all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Well, that would certainly include the commandments of God, right? We need to know what does the Lord want us to do. What's his commands? Answer c, be willing to repent of--and this is acts 2. They said, "Peter, what shall we do?" He said, "repent and be baptized.

" Repent. That means a sorrow for our sins and a willingness to turn away from those sins. Got that? Answer d, again when the Ethiopian treasurer was baptized Philip said, "if you believe with all your heart." It ought to be a total commitment. It's a very serious thing to be baptized. Answer e, "a willingness to turn from sin.

" I already touched on that, Romans 6:5-6. Based on these criteria of what the Bible says should be done prior to baptism, is it appropriate to baptize a baby? Can a baby repent of its sins? Can a baby be taught the commandments of God? Can a baby believe with all of its heart and accept the plan of salvation? No. It is appropriate to dedicate our babies, but you shouldn't call it baptism. For one thing, if you baptize babies biblically, it might not be safe to plunge them under like that. Actually, I hear babies learn to swim pretty quick.

They naturally hold their breath when they're little. But don't--don't--don't try this at home. I'm always afraid. There's so many attorneys out there. You gotta always say that after everything.

Galatians 1:8... There are a lot of false things out there that are being taught, that are being practiced. But if it isn't from the Word of God and what you read the apostles saying, go by the Bible and you're safe. Amen? Friends? All right. Why is this important? Number eight, "what is the symbolic meaning of baptism?" There is a symbolic meaning.

Colossians 2:12, it says... It's a symbol of a burial for one thing. Now, if back in the good ol' days when not every city had a city dump, sometimes on the farm, kids were told to go out and bury the trash. What you couldn't burn and what you couldn't feed the animals, they would bury. How many of you remember those days where every farm had its own little dump and you were very economical about what you put in there? And if you tell your teenage son or daughter, "all right, take the trash out and go bury it.

" They might dig a hole out there somewhere, and if they dig a hole and they throw the trash in it and they just sprinkle some dirt on it, is that a burial? Have you ever been to a funeral where you might symbolically sprinkle some dirt on the deceased's casket, but there's some guys hanging around with shovels, aren't there? Because you don't just leave it like that. They're not buried yet. Buried means covered over and that's what should happen with the water. It's saying that your old life is completely out of sight. Again, Romans 6:4; baptism is symbolized by a death.

.. Now, I want to park on this point for just a moment. Some people say, "Pastor Doug, I see that baptism is very important, and I believe God wants me to get baptized. There's some things my life I need to straighten out, but if I could just get baptized. I think I could give up my drinking and my drugs and my cigarettes and--" and you know what? There are a lot of pastors that will probably baptize a person before they're committed to a newness of life.

I'm not one of them. I believe that you should lay those things aside before baptism. The Bible compares baptism to marriage. I'll get to that in just a moment. Let me ask the ladies, present, a question.

If a young man that you were courting, were on a campus here so I can use this as an example, said to you, "you know, I think I'd like to marry you. And if we could only have a marriage ceremony, I could probably stop dating the other girls on campus." How many of you would accept that proposal, anyone? Wouldn't you say, "no, no, no, we're not even talking about marriage until you're totally done dating anyone else? How many would agree with that? Baptism represents: you are turning from your service to the devil, you're being liberated from that and you're gonna now walk in a newness of life. So baptism doesn't make you stop smoking or drinking and it's really hurt people before when some pastors who--i think they may mean well or they think there's some potency in the water that's gonna help this person get the victory. No, you get the victory before the ceremony. When people came to John the baptist for baptism he said, "bring ye forth therefore fruits meet unto repentance.

" You repent and you baptize but repentance means there's a transformation in your life, and he gave them a number of specifics. So there should be victory there. Let's move on. Romans 6:5, it's a symbol for death, a burial, and praise God, not just a burial, a resurrection. You are a new creature.

It's like when a baby comes out of the water and it takes that first breath. It's born and when you're baptized it's like you're born again. You come out of the water and you take that breath and it represents a newness of life, a resurrection. You are a new creature all those old sins are left in the water. It's wonderful ceremony, but it is that; it is a ceremony.

When I was in Israel, I collected some water from the Jordan river and this is, oh, 20 something years ago. I still have a bottle half full. And I thought it would be nice, one of these mission churches--i pastored a church on a reservation in New Mexico. I want to say hi to my friends [inaudible] who are watching there in navajo land. But I remember one time I poured some of the Jordan water in the baptistery and all of a sudden, everyone wanted to get baptized.

And they came up to me later and I just did it 'cause I'm a little romantic. I thought, "wouldn't that be nice to say I was baptized in some of the same water Jesus was baptized in?" But they took it too far. They kept, "can I have some?" And they poured it on my hands. They rubbed it on their face. Oh, no, no, it's water.

It's h20. It probably wasn't even clean water. Jordan river's not a clean river. It's a muddy river. Symbol of death, burial, resurrection.

.. In other words, there ought to be a crucifixion of the old man before baptism, that old nature. We're not gonna live for sin anymore. I remember when I first learned this truth, pastor was working with me. I was still smoking.

That was a big struggle for me. And I gave up the drugs and I gave up the alcohol, but smoking was a struggle. And I wanted to get baptized. And the pastor said, "no, brother doug," he says, "you gotta give up the cigarettes." And a little girl, rachel, was in the pickup truck with me and I had my cigarettes on the dashboard. And I'm looking at him and I'm saying, "God knows I'm loving--i love him.

It's not what goes in the mouth that defiles you." And I'm making this speech to him and right then, little rachel took the cigarettes, began to shake them. I didn't see her do it. And they're all falling out of the pack. He says, "she sees what you're doing." He says, "you need to start a new life for her if for no one else." And I was convicted. And he said, "by the way, it represents a new birth and God doesn't want his babies smoking.

" I mean, you think about it. You go to somebody and they say, "praise the Lord. I got baptized today"... I mean, how can you represent Jesus like that? We're babies in Christ. It's a new birth.

There's a purity there. I understand that the fluid around a baby is constantly being purified and it's representing a new birth. Again, Galatians 3:27, "for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." It's like we are putting on the robe of Christ's righteousness. It's like a wedding, like a marriage. A marriage ceremony is very important but does the ceremony make you love? Ladies, I like to always ask the ladies because they know the answer right away, men have to think about it.

If a man came to you and said, "you know, I think if we could just get married, I'd really love you," would you by that or does the love have to happen first? The ceremony is the public declaration of the commitment that already is there. Is that right? So some people think that there's some magic in the water that's gonna make it happen. Yes, the baptism ceremony is very important and things do happen at that ceremony. It's registered in heaven. But the commitment must be it.

The ceremony doesn't make the commitment. Number nine, "should a person not be baptized until he's certain he'll never sin?" That's the other extreme. I've had some people postpone their baptism. "Oh, Pastor Doug, I'm so afraid after I get baptized, I'll do something wrong. I gotta wait until I'm sinless.

" If you waited 'til you knew everything about your spouse before you got married, or until you thought they were perfect--how many of you learned a lot after you got married. Karen should have put--oh, her hand's up, I just wondered. I wrote her a poem when we got married. I will not recite it for you right now. But I thought, "you know, what can I promise her?" And the only thing I could promise her was it won't be boring.

That was the theme of my poem. And I've kept my word. 2 Corinthians 8:12, "if there first be a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that a man hath not." If you come to the Lord and you are willing to lay aside all of these, the prominent things in your life that are obstacles, it doesn't mean you have to walk sinlessly before you're baptized. But any kind of addiction should be laid aside. If you've got a problem drinking or smoking or drugs, wrong kind of relationship, you've got to get those things behind you so that you are walking, so that you have a path before you where you have an opportunity to walk in consistency with Christ.

You can expect that the devil's gonna throw banana peels in your way. Don't get discouraged. Get back up. You keep on going, amen? So you don't wait until you feel like you're perfect, but at the same time, you shouldn't be getting baptized if you're still handcuffed to the devil. You understand the balance? Ephesians 5:25, it's compared to a marriage.

"Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it." Baptism is a public--and you know, it's usually done publicly. John did it at the river and people were all gathered and he pointed to Jesus and everyone saw what was happening. We should not be ashamed of our commitment to Christ. Ladies, question: if a man said to you, "yeah, I'd like to get married, but do we have to have people see me do this? Does--do other people have to know about this," would that worry you? Now there are cases, I know some friends that are in china and some countries where you're persecuted for your Christianity, they need to have clandestine baptisms there 'cause it's just illegal in the government. And in some countries in india, certain territories are, the hindus and the muslims, are very hard on Christians.

They have private baptisms because otherwise they could just cause a riot. And so you need to be prudent about these things. Number ten, "why is baptism an urgent matter for a converted sinner?" Paul says or Paul's testimony, acts 2:16, and ananias said to Paul, "arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins calling on the name of the Lord." Baptism is a symbol for a washing away of our sins. And don't we need our sins washed away? That record of sin is left in the water. I always pray with people at my church before I baptize them.

And I tell them, I say, "before you get in the water," I said, "I want you to know that you may not feel electricity go up and down your spine, but Christ has promised that if you do this, that you come out of that water and all the mistakes and the sins of the past are left behind. You are pure. And if you slip and die after you get out of the baptistery--" that didn't sound right. I don't word it that way. But I said, "you know, if you should die tonight, after you get out--you're sins are under the blood of the lamb," and tears often well up in their eyes as they hear that.

They say, "yes, I want to leave all the old man, buried, dead. I want to be born-again. I want to be cleansed." And baptism is all a symbol of that. That's why Jesus said in Matthew 28:19, repeating this, "go ye therefore teach all nations baptizing them in the name of The Father and The Son and the holy ghost." And people often say, "oh, there it goes. Now, Pastor Doug, a lot of churches baptize using different utterances.

What name should we baptize in?" How many of you have heard people argue that point before? I get that Bible question a lot. Should it be in the name of The Father, son and Holy Spirit? Some say, "no, that's just a title." And others say, "it should be in the name of Jesus." Well, let's look at what the Bible says. Jesus, first of all, said, "name of The Father, son, and the Holy Spirit," on your screen. Acts 2:38, it says, "in the name of Jesus Christ." Acts 8:16, "in the name of the Lord Jesus." Acts 10:48, "in the name of the Lord." You know what that tells me? They're all a little different. The emphasis wasn't on the exact utterance.

Matter of fact, the statement, "above the head of Jesus. This is Jesus Christ, king of the jews." In Greek, Hebrew and latin, they were a little different in each language you read the Gospels, but it's the same person, no question about it. It's sort of like--people get so distracted with trivial stuff, they miss the big things. When I do a wedding--i periodically do weddings. I don't do a lot of weddings.

For some reason, the ladies are superstitious about having the name pastor Batchelor on the certificate and so I don't get asked very often but--and they make me nervous, so that's okay. When I do a wedding, I meet with the bride and the groom, we go over the vows. And I say, "you know, there's different kinds of vows and how would you like to do them?" And sometimes they have a very formal high wedding where I say, "do you--" and I'll say the groom's all four of his names, "take the bride--" and I'll say all four of her names and all her ancestors. It's very formal. And then others say, you know, we've got some friends.

It's a small wedding. We'll do it a little more informal. Everyone here knows who's who and I'll say, "do you, John, take jane?" And you know what? In any state in the country, either way you utter that, it is a legal marriage ceremony. And so when people are being baptized and you say, "in the name of The Father and The Son and the Holy Spirit, I try to cover all the bases. You know what I do? I say, "in the name of The Father, in the name of his son, Jesus Christ, in the name of the Holy Spirit.

" I know one pastor--i think God has a sense of humor, don't you? And he was an American english pastor who was baptizing a hispanic member and he wanted to do it in his own native tongue. And so the pastor--what he wanted to do was say: en el nombre de la padre y el hijo y espiritu santo. Something like that, right? I've got a lot of spanish friends here. And he got flustered when he was saying it. He said, el nombre de la papa, which is "the pope" or "potato.

" Potato's papa too. So he baptized him in the name of the potato, The Son and the Holy Spirit or the pope and The Son and the Holy Spirit. And the gentlemen who was getting baptized, he kind of smiled a little bit and then he got baptized. You think the Lord accepted that baptism? Of course, he did. I mean, he can get to the gates of glory and say, "you can't come in because you were baptized in the name of the potato.

" No, some people, you know, they major on minors; God looks on the heart and, you know, God is not an exacting tyrant like that. But this also raises another important question. What about rebaptism? Some have been baptized--first of all, many of you already have learned--a lot of our friends, you were maybe baptized as a baby or baptized by sprinkling and you realize, "I need to be baptized as Christ was." It is appropriate to be rebaptized. There's an example in the Bible if you read in acts 19, you can read verses 2-5. Paul is preaching unto these Ephesians believers and he asked them if they were baptized and they said unto him, "we've not even heard whether or not there'd be any Holy Spirit.

" He said, have you received the Holy Spirit... Notice, when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Now here they were baptized by John the baptist, obviously, before Christ began his ministry but it was by immersion the way John did it. But then they left town, went up to ephesus. They had not heard about Christ's ministry, his death and all that happened.

And there was so much they didn't know. They were rebaptized because they'd learned so much more. So another reason is if you're not baptized biblically, one of the Bible methods sprinkling, pouring, rose petals, you should be baptized biblically. If you were baptized and you just did not understand the major concepts of the Gospel--some people, they get baptized like cattle. They're just told, "it's time to get baptized.

" They don't know what the commitment means, and it's really not their choice. They might consider rebaptism. They come into a whole new understanding. The third reason for rebaptism, I told you it's like a marriage ceremony. If a person divorces themself from the Lord, major backsliding, they publicly turn away and walk with the world, when you come back.

I'm not talking about you missed church one week or you lose your temper. But if you publicly turn away from the Lord, it might be appropriate to consider rebaptism. And so you might want to talk to one of your site leaders or a pastor about your situation if you're in that category. Pastor Doug was rebaptized. Want to hear about it? First time--oh, you've already heard it.

The first time I was baptized, I was up in a cave, baby Christian, just read the Bible, accepted Jesus. And I'm sitting in my cave yard there one day doing what cavemen do. And somebody came--two guys came hiking into my yard. I rarely saw people. I'd go days without seeing anybody.

And these guys come into the yard, and they stopped, obviously, to visit with me for a few minutes. One of them asked, he says, "are you a Christian?" And I had accepted Jesus at this point up in the cave though, I was, albeit, a very baby Christian. And I said, "well, yes, I am." And they saw the Bible was sitting there right on my five-gallon bucket where I kept it. And they said, "well, have you been baptized?" That was their next question. And I had run into it reading the Bible.

I said, "well, no, I haven't. You know, just for whatever reason I knew it was something that needed to happen, but I just hadn't really thought about it. They said, "oh, you gotta be baptized." And two of them, they huddled around me and they went through just a machine gun Bible study. And they said, "you need to get baptized." Right outside my cave was a beautiful waterfall and a nice deep pool that you could dive in. And the water from the cave came from the melting snow on top of mount san jacinto and this was the springtime and it was cold.

And so they said, "you know, you should be baptized." I said, "all right." You know, I didn't want to argue with them. They obviously knew their Bibles, and so I went out there and went down in the water and got baptized and came up. And I definitely felt born again because that water was so cold that when you came out of it-- and then they went hiking off up the trail. And I'm sitting there by myself, I go, "wow, this is great. I've been baptized.

I gotta tell my friends." So I went to town, I found one of my friends. I said, "let's go get some beer and celebrate. I got baptized." It's really what happened. Before the sun went down that day, I was in jail telling my friends about Jesus. I'm telling you, I emphasize, I was a baby Christian.

And I hadn't broken any major crimes. I--you're saying, "well, how'd you end up in jail?" I was something of a vagrant back then and that's what it was all about is these police were trying to clean up palm springs. I was living in the canyon. I kind of was a little rough around the edges and so they arrested me and my friend. Anyway, but I thought, "praise the Lord.

" So here I am witnessing in jail but I always thought, "you know, I didn't know what was going on." So years later, when I learned some of the things that I'm sharing with you. What a real Christian commitment is about. The pastor who worked with me-- I realized I needed to be rebaptized. By the way, I quit smoking. I was rebaptized, 30 years I haven't had a cigarette in my mouth.

By God's grace, he'll set you free from those things. Number 11, "does a person receive the Holy Spirit when they're baptized?" Well, they should. The promise of Peter was acts 2:38... Does he say, you might, you may, you could or does he say you shall?" So many people are baptized and they're not taught about the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit and certainly babies aren't taught that. You cannot live the Christian life without the Christian spirit anymore than Jesus.

Jesus needed the Holy Spirit at his baptism for his ministry. Now you might be thinking, "well, Pastor Doug, we know that Christ was anointed with the Holy Spirit at the same time he was baptized. Does it always happen that way?" No, sometimes it happens in other sequence. You read in the Bible about the apostles, Peter, James, John. They were baptized with the Holy Spirit after their baptism at pentecost.

Then you got the story in acts 10 of cornelius and his family. They were baptized with the Holy Spirit before their baptism. But you need both. Born of the water, born of the Spirit. You need both.

They may not happen simultaneous. You could be baptized by the Holy Spirit right now. But there's a promise that when you commit your life to the Lord and you are baptized, as you step out to live the Christian life, God gives you the Christian spirit. Number 12, "how does God feel about the baptism of a converted person?" It tells us in Mark 1:9... Now I want to take a moment and look with you at the baptism of Jesus.

By the way, you may want to turn to this in your Bibles to Matthew 3. And we're gonna just do a real quick Bible study on this subject of baptism, because why was Christ baptized? To wash away his sin or as an example for us, for one thing? You read here in Mark-- I'm sorry, Matthew 3:16, "then Jesus, when he was baptized, he came up immediately from the water and behold the heavens were open to him." Stop. When you are baptized, the heaven are open for you. You see, when you're baptized, you are then chronicled as a child of God. Not everybody walking the world is a child of God.

Jesus said to the scribes in pharisees, "you are not Abraham's children. You're of your father, the devil." So all of these mushy sermons you may have heard from preachers say, "we're all God's children." The Bible doesn't teach that. You are all God's creation but there's some people out there that are children of the devil. They are living for the devil. When you commit your life to the Lord, you are a child of God.

Now you've got access to heaven. The resources of heaven through prayer, it's open to you. The heavens were open. What else happened to Jesus? It says, "and behold he saw the Spirit of God." Is the promise of the Holy Spirit offered to you? "Descending like a dove." Was does a dove symbolize? Peace. Peace comes into your heart.

Oh, friends, I'll tell you, there is no peace like the peace that comes through a person who knows that they're where God wants them to be. If you know that you are where God wants you to be, like Peter, you can sleep on death row. Like Jesus, you can sleep through a storm. You've got that peace that passes all understanding. The Holy Spirit will give you a peace that people will envy.

They'll sense there's something about you. "A peace came in the form of a dove, the Holy Spirit came to him. And it alighted upon him and suddenly, a voice came from heaven." Now Jesus is hearing a voice from heaven. Will God speak to you with his voice in a special way after baptism? See, once you commit your life to the Lord, you're then saying, "Lord, here am, I send me. What do you want me to do?" And he gives you a guidance.

Once you commit your way to the Lord, he will guide you in a way unlike before. Baptism's like marriage. A lot of people are dating the Lord, but they're not married. Now I want to ask you: if you go back to the appropriate method, isn't it right that while you might love somebody, while you're dating them, there are certain rights you're not supposed to have until after marriage. Say, "amen.

" Certain privileges, certain rights, certain access, certain intimacy, you don't have until after marriage. After baptism you are married, there is an intimacy there that you did not have before because you have made the commitment to Jesus. "A voice came from heaven saying, "this is my beloved son." You and I should hear, by faith, God saying when we're baptized, "you are now my beloved son, my daughter in whom I am well pleased." You are adopted into the family as a child of God. And he says, "I am well pleased. I'm not just pleased.

I am well pleased." Who doesn't want the approval of their parents? Don't you want the approbation of your Heavenly Father? All that happened to Jesus--and then what did Jesus do? Did he park there on the banks and say, just meditate, "now I'm baptized," or did Christ begin his ministry at his baptism? God's got a ministry for you and when the Holy Spirit comes into your life, he is gonna give you gifts of the Spirit for ministry. That all happened with the baptism of Jesus and--I've gotta be fair-- what happened after the children of Israel crossed the red sea? They had a little celebration, but then were they attacked by the amalekites? Were there tests and were there temptations and were there trials? See, when you join the winning team, the devil is threatened. You've escaped from the devil's top security prison. He's infuriated and so there's gonna be trials. When Jesus was baptized, did the devil come after him? I'm just being fair.

You know sometimes I think it's unfair if a pastor tells someone, "just get baptized. Everything will be wonderful." It will be wonderful for a while. You'll have a honeymoon with the Lord, and then you've got the marriage. I didn't mean it to come out that way. Sorry, dear.

I didn't mean it that way. But you knew what I meant. Yeah, no, the Lord, they'll be a time of celebration. But the Christian life, you know, there's gonna be trials. They'll be temptation.

How did Jesus meet with every temptation that came in the wilderness? He said, "it is written. It is written. It is written." Luke 7:30, it says here, "but the pharisees and the lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves being not baptized of John the baptist." When they were not baptized, the Bible says they rejected the counsel of God. Number 13, "can a person experience true baptism without becoming a member of God's church?" What does the Bible say? Acts 2:41... They were baptized into Christ.

The Bible says, "you're baptized into Christ." What is the church? It's the body of Christ. Baptism is where you become part of the family, a baby that is born-again that is not in a family, a lamb that is not in the fold, the wolves are gonna get it. And people will say, "I want to be baptized, but I don't want to be part of a family." I think that's a little dangerous, don't you? Now, it would not be appropriate for me to present a message like this without doing what Jesus did and what John the baptist did. Jesus began his ministry by saying, "repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." John said, "repent and be baptized." Peter said, "repent and be baptized." Elijah prepared people for the Lord. He prepared a way for the Lord.

John the baptist prepared people for Christ's first coming. We want you to understand the return of Elijah and be prepared for Christ's second coming. There may be some here who have never made that decision to be baptized. At the sites that have registers in here in barrien springs at the pioneer memorial church, you should have a card that's not far from your hands, and it gives you an opportunity to make a decision. I'd like to look at that card with you right now.

They're gonna put it up on the screen, and I want you to be praying. Write your name on the card, please. You can even find the card at our website, you who are watching at home, some are watching on the internet. You can go right there to www.mostamazingprophecies.com. We'd like to encourage you to make a decision about what you've heard.

Let me tell you what the first question is. "I believe baptism by immersion is God's plan for Christ's followers." If that's something you believe is true, check that. Second question, "I choose to fully surrender my life to Jesus accepting him as my Lord and personal Savior." I want you to check that spot, and I hope that you are praying with me right now as people are weighing these decisions. And I'm gonna be praying with you. Number three, "I want to be ready for Jesus' return and follow his example of baptism by immersion.

" Maybe you've given your heart to Jesus but you'd like to prepare for baptism. It doesn't mean anybody's gonna knock on your door and twist your arm and try and make you get baptized before you're ready. It's your wedding. You set the date. Amen? When you're ready.

But you can make the decision now. Number four, "I've wandered away from Jesus, and I wish to rededicate my life to him through rebaptism." Some of you maybe were not baptized biblically, you need to be rebaptized. Some of you maybe have learned so much, you realize that you need to recommit your life and take a stand for the truth. Others, you've wandered, you've backslidden, you need to get remarried. Amen? I would like for you to fill this card out.

And maybe you've got questions, you'd like one of your group leaders or somebody here at the pioneer memorial church to visit with you and answer questions. Check that last box, "I'd like to have someone visit with me." Friends, these are very important issues. We got a letter at the office today; one of our group's young man from iraq had been coming to the meetings night after night, accepted Jesus during one of our appeals. And we got an e-mail that he died, I think last night or yesterday, 26 years old. We are so thankful he made his decision.

Is the Holy Spirit speaking to you? You need to make your decision. Why would you say no to Jesus? I want John to come and sing, and I want to have prayer with you in just a moment. And those who are watching, we want a prayer for you. We're hoping that you're distributing your cards here at the pioneer memorial church. You can leave them with the ushers, and we'll pray over your cards and help you process those decisions.

[Music] there is a fountain filled with blood flowing from immanuel's veins. And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains, they lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains. And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains. Amen. I pray that the Holy Spirit has had his way in your life.

Those of you who need to make this decision to be washed, to begin a life, a spirit-filled life of following Christ; preparing others for his return. That was the ministry of John and Elijah. And take your cards, fill them out, turn them in. We'll be praying for you to make your decisions. And I'd like to pray with you right now.

Some are even struggling in the valley of decision. Please bow your heads with me, very important decisions being made. Dear eternal father, we are so grateful for the truth that we can have a new beginning and this wonderful ceremony of baptism represents that cleansing, that new birth, death of the old man, resurrection of a new creature that all the old life can be washed away and we can become new creatures in Christ. What a privilege, Lord. Help us by your grace to follow Jesus into those waters of Jordan that we might be born-again in his likeness.

Bless those who might be struggling with this decision. And I pray that your Holy Spirit will have the victory in their lives and in their decisions right now. Be with each person, continue to bless this seminar and prepare us for Jesus' return. We ask in his name, amen. God bless you and the Lord be with you.

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