We once concluded with the outpouring of our heart to an electric audience of attentive Bible lovers. After the lesson, one seemingly apprehensive, but convicted believer, stood up and valiantly said, “I want to be baptized right now!”

So after initial preparations for the event, both of us proceeded down into the water.   There was a sense of nervous apprehension in the willing subject who had declared his intentions to follow Jesus.   He was quite nervous with his first step into the water. As the subject was in the process of being laid back into the water in order to be immersed, arms and legs went flinging everywhere. Hands and feet grabbed after everything that was above water.   He was hydrophobic (terrified of water). After some reassuring persuasion, the self-confessed hydrophobic believer fought against his fears.   Nevertheless, we almost both went down into the water, he wide-eyed and struggling, and me not seeking to be rebaptized. What was so encouraging was that he overcame his fear of water in order to follow Jesus into the Jordan River.   He had not informed us before of his phobia. However, regardless of his phobia of water, he was determined to be baptized as Jesus had commanded.   After the experience, no one in the attentive audience let him pass without hugs and encouragement for his courage to overcome his fear of water in order to obey the gospel.

It is unfortunate today that there are thousands of “believers” who claim to be followers (disciples) of Jesus, but they do not have the courage to overcome their hydrophobia. They claim to be followers of Jesus, but they will not follow Him to Aenon where there was much water into which they would be immersed after the example of Jesus (John 3:23). They will not follow Jesus by obedience to His instructions to be baptized in order to be saved (Mark 16:16). And thus, they are not willing to be “of Christ” by baptism into His name (1 Corinthians 1:12,13).

Paul said, “Be imitators of me even as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).   But there are hydrophobics today who will not follow Paul to the grave of water as he imitated Christ by following Him (Acts 22:16). Some hydrophobics today are so afraid of the water that they would never even “follow the crowd” of those who followed Peter’s instructions on the day of Pentecost to be “baptized for remission of sins’” (Acts 2:38). A crowd of about 3,000 men and women followed Peter’s instructions on that day to be immersed for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:41).   They followed his instructions right into and out of the water in obedience to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (See Romans 6:3-6). We are sure there are some who could not say as the Ethiopian eunuch, “See, here is water! What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36). Instead, some religious hydrophobics would say, “See, here is water! Get me out of here!”

Too many seem to forget that when a pagan idolater responded to what a Christian believed in the first century, he was not initially told to either repent or confess that Jesus was the Christ and Son of Christ. He was not initially informed about baptism. Pagan unbelievers were initially told what Paul said to the idolatrous Philippian jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you and your household will be saved.” (Acts 16:31). Idolatrous unbelievers had to first believe that Jesus was the Son of God, and then they were taught the rest of the story. Paul and Silas continued with the rest of the story to the Philippian jailor by speaking to him “the word of the Lord.” (Acts 16:32). And the result? “And immediately he [the jailor] was baptized, he and all his household.” (Acts 16:33). One must first believe in Jesus, and then obedience to the rest of the story will follow. And the rest of the story involves repentance and washing away of sins in the waters of baptism.

The entire gospel according to John was written that the idolatrous unbelievers to whom John wrote “might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing” they might have life through His name (John 20:31). In his book, John was not writing to believers.   He was writing to idolatrous unbelievers who knew nothing or little about the life and ministry of Jesus, especially the fact that Jesus was the Word (John 1:1-14), the Son of God who came down out of heaven for the salvation of man (John 3:13).   Idolatrous unbelievers must first, as the eunuch and idolatrous jailor, believe that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God. After belief, that which was necessary to be born again would come (John 3:3-5).

It is highly unfortunate that so many throughout the religious world have twisted the gospel of John out of John’s purpose for which he wrote the book. His message, that was only to be the beginning of the message of the gospel, has been made the conclusion. We must not forget, however, that belief is only the beginning of one’s journey to do all that God requires of each individual in order to be saved. If one stops at the beginning, then no obedient repentance will occur (Luke 13:3). There will be no confession that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God (Romans 10:9).   There will be no baptism into Christ (Galatians 3:26-29).

When those on the day of Pentecost believed that they had crucified the Lord and Christ, they said to the apostles, “Men and brethren, what will we do?” (Acts 2:37).   The apostles did not leave them at belief by telling them that they were saved by “belief only.” Instead of allowing them to remain lost in a “state of belief,” Peter instructed that they follow through with their belief. We read the gospel according to John in order to believe that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God. We read the book of Acts to find out where to go from belief.   Belief in the New Testament is more than a smile on one’s face, or a warm feeling. It is an inward activation to follow Jesus to the Jordan River in order to be immersed for the remission of all past sins. Once they believe, true believers will overcome their hydrophobia by asking, “Where is the water?”

Research:   BAPTISM: A FAITH RESPONSE TO THE CROSS,   www.africainternational.org


Fellow Workers

There are fundamental concepts in the Scriptures concerning relationships that are often glaringly contrary to the accepted behavioral norms of the world in which we live. One of these Spirit-inspired norms is critical in defining how Christians are to relate with one another as the organic body of Christ. This is a relational norm is often the most violated mandate of all Scripture.   Jesus explained, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them.   And their great ones exercise authority over them. But it will not be so among you (Mark 10:42,43). No interpretation need be exercised to understand what Jesus meant in this statement. Nevertheless, this very clear principle in reference to relationships is a principle that is often ignored by those who seek to rule over their fellow disciples.   When it is ignored, the relationship that disciples must maintain with one another becomes very dysfunctional.

In order to explain the relational servitude by which His disciples were to function as His body, Jesus illustrated His teaching on relationships with the practice of slavery that was a common socioeconomic structure of the Roman Empire.   Jesus used the relationship of slaves (bondservants) with one another to define the relationship that Christians, as fellow slaves, would function with one another in His kingdom. Slaves were FELLOW bondservants (or, servants) (Matthew 18:28-35; 24:45-51). Jesus explained that the disciples’ relationships with one another must be as fellow slaves. They understood the slavery of the Roman Empire, and thus, they understood what Jesus meant when He spoke of them as fellow slaves of one another (Mark 10:44,45; see John 11:16). Being “fellow” meant that no disciple was given the right to have authority over any other disciple. Before His departure from them, therefore, Jesus reminded His disciples that all authority among all His fellow bondservants would always remain with Him (Matthew 28:18). Discipleship, therefore, meant serving one another as fellow workers in Christ, not being in positions of authority among slaves.

After the ascension of Jesus, the Holy Spirit took over in defining the relational function that the disciples had with one another. The Spirit first focused on the reason for the disciples’ relationship as fellow members of the body. They were “fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17), and thus, “fellow heirs of the same body” (Ephesians 3:6). The Gentiles were “fellow citizens” in the household of God (Ephesians 2:19). Now if the disciples were called to be “fellows” in reference to their salvation and kingdom citizenship, then, as Jesus had previously stated, there were to be no lords or rulers among them. The definition of disciples being “fellows” in their relationship with one another dismisses the possibility that one “fellow” should rise up over his other “fellows” in Christ. There are no bosses among fellow heirs.

For example, Paul stated in reference to Andronicus and Junia, that they were his “fellow prisoners who are notable among the apostles” (Romans 16:7).   Being “notable” does not mean being exalted with authority over the apostles. They were fellow prisoners “among,” but not over one another in the kingdom. Aristarchus and Epaphras were likewise fellow prisoners with Paul in Rome (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 23).   So there are no lords or rulers among fellow prisoners.

“Fellow” means that we equally share in the same thing. Christians equally share together as heirs with Christ. If required, they equally share together as prisoners for Christ. They equally share together as citizens of the kingdom. And thus, they equally share together as “fellow bondservants” in their organic function as members of the body (Colossians 1:7).

Herein is the definition of the disciples’ relationship with one another as members of the body of Christ. The absence of lords and rulers among the disciples means that there is an equality among fellow citizens. Disciples cannot equally share as fellow workers if some “fellows” are designated with authority over their fellow disciples. As soon as one of the “fellows” assumes authority over his fellows in Christ, then the one who assumes authority has made his fellow bondservants his employees. In his assumption of authority, therefore, he has denied the fellowship of equality among the disciples (See 3 John 9,10).

Timothy was a fellow worker with Paul, though Paul was not a boss over Timothy (Romans 16:21). Paul would not rule over the faith of the Corinthians, but reminded them that he was a fellow worker with them (2 Corinthians 1:24). Titus was a partner and fellow worker with Paul (2 Corinthians 8:23). The two sisters, Euodia and Syntyche, were also fellow workers with Paul (Philippians 4:3). In their relationships with one another, the disciples in the New Testament were identified to be fellow workers, or servants (See Philemon 1,24; 3 John 8; Revelation 6:11). Being fellow workers meant that no one disciple had any authority over any other disciple.

This is the secret to the dynamic function of the body of Christ. If there are no lords or rulers among fellow members, then each fellow member must take ownership of his or her responsibility to be a functioning member in the body. All members must assume their responsibility to function equally, though equality does not mean in same way. We have different gifts (1 Corinthians 12:12-32). With the control and authority of only one Head, each fellow member assumes his or her role to function with his or her gift that was granted to them by the Head in order that the body function. Dysfunctions in the body come when members refuse to function as fellow parts of the body (See Ephesians 4:7,8,11-16).

There is no competition for power among equal fellow workers. If Paul had authority over Apollos, he, on one occasion, could have commanded him to go to Corinth (1 Corinthian 16:12). Since Apollos did not go when Paul requested, Apollos was not sinning against some apostolic authority that was supposedly invested in Paul. When Paul and Barnabas disagreed over taking John Mark on the second mission journey, Barnabas was not rebelling against any apostolic authority of Paul (Acts 15:36-41).   Paul, Apollos and Barnabas were all fellow workers, and thus, neither of them had any authority over the other, and neither had any authority over the function of the church as a whole. And for this reason, each of these men assumed their responsibility to use their gifts to be functioning fellow workers in the body of Christ.

We live in a world of lords and rulers. Our social environment makes it quite difficult for some disciples to leave the business boardroom of the corporate world and function in equity as fellow workers among the disciples. The boss in the boardroom often wants to treat his fellow workers in the body as his employees. The CEO of his own business often seeks to be the president of the body of Christ.   Those invested with authority in government sometimes seek the same among the disciples. However, leaders among the members of the body do not lead with authority. The notable leaders among us do not “lord over those entrusted” to them, but function as “examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3). When disciples take ownership of their responsibility to function as fellow workers of the body, it is then that the body grows.



Book 19:   Servant Leadership

Book 37:   One Lord With All Authority

Biblical Research Library





Divine Conversation

     “If We do this thing, then Our action will come with many risks.”

      “I know, but Our very existence and nature necessitates that We act.”

      “That’s true. If We do not act, then Our lack of action will be the very denial of Our existence. Our existence as one eternal divine entity would not be a reality if we did not create beings who would be terminal in the presence of Our eternality. As there is no light without darkness, then there is no eternality with finality. If Our eternality must be evidenced by those who can miss out on eternity by not conforming to the nature of who We are, then Our eternality would be the only reality, and thus, have no definition.   How can We say that We have existed for all eternity if there never existed those who were not eternal, for eternality is defined by that which is not eternal.”

      “So We are all in agreement that We must create. But if We create, then that which We create must in some way emulate the essence, nature, and character of who We are. Those We bring into the realm of terminableness must be created with the possibility of becoming eternal in Our presence. If Our created ones cannot become as We are in existence, then there will be those who conclude that We do not exist as We are.   As the origin of that which is terminal, the terminal must have the possibility of eternality. If not, then We have left ourselves with the task of continually creating in order to reveal Our power to create. And if this were the case, then the created would conclude that their existence was only the result of some natural process of spontaneous generation.”

      “I know.   But creation comes with a risk.   If We do not take the risk, then We are an eternal anomaly without definition. Because of Our nature and being, therefore, it is necessary that We create. In creation of that which has the possibility of entering into eternity, the created must be given the freedom to make moral decisions—we must not create preprogrammed robots. If there were no risk in creating individuals who have the freedom to make moral choices, and thus have the possibility of eternality, then there would be no reason for creation. We would thus remain in eternity as We are, having not expressed Our love through creation.”

     “In order for those We create to emulate the true nature of who We are, then We are taking the risk that Our creation will go wrong. In fact, most of those we will allow to exist will take selfish control of the image after which We create them in order to make themselves, on their own volition, as We are.”

      “Yes, but it is a risk that is necessary. It is necessary in order to reveal to Our created ones that We are who We are in eternity. We must, therefore, plan the revelation of one of Us in a way that will evidence Our nature of love, and at the same time, offer them the possibility of eternality if they emulate in their lives Our nature of love. Since the risk of choice on the part of those We create infers the possibility of some exercising extreme hate, We must still take the risk of creating free-moral individuals. Unless those whom we create have the freedom to choose, they will never understand the extremity of Our love if they do not have the freedom to go extremely right or extremely wrong.”

      “So we must embed within their nature the instinct that their origin is extraterrestrial. After Our image they must be given an innate desire to search for Us in the terrestrial environment We will create for their temporary dwelling. In their search beyond themselves, some will conclude that there must be ‘something’ beyond their own existence. In their search, therefore, some will find Us. However, the fact that most will not discover Us in their search must not deter Us from creation. There will certainly be those whose search will not go beyond the limits of their imagination. Because these will not see beyond themselves, they will create in their imagination beings that are contrary to the very nature of who We are.”

      “Yes, those who create gods after their own earthly natures will go wrong. In fact, most of Our creation will go after the carnality of the environment that they create for themselves. Dominant individuals among them will rise up and dominate.   The instinctive nature We will place within them will be confused with their own carnality, and thus, they will seek to destroy their own kind. They will subsequently follow after the original rebellious one whom we will allow to roam among them for the purpose of destruction. Therefore, Our created beings will invent for themselves cults of death by which they would destroy their fellow man.”

     “But their religious cultures of death will manifest the extreme of Our culture of love by which We are identified. Their death cult will reveal that they have created a god after their own carnality and a religion that justifies their desires to dominate.”

      “The risk of freedom to choose comes with the possibility that Our creation will often throughout time turn on itself. Self-extermination will always be a possibility. However, if there are no extremes to the freedom of our creation, then there can be no final identity of who We are. If Our creation will follow the deceiver to the extreme of destroying themselves in the name of religion, then one of Us must reveal to humanity that We are not that way. We are an extreme culture of love, and thus, Our visitation among those whom We create must reveal Our love.”

      “We recognize that Our dilemma is that We must create because We are love.   Nevertheless, We must allow hate to exist in order that those who choose to be as We are, will understand that the environment in which they live cannot be their final destiny. Those who choose Us will be identified by the nature of who We are. The religions of hate and death that are invented by the carnally-minded will give the honest searcher the opportunity to conclude that We exist, and that Our existence is based on love, for We created because of love.”

      “In order for those who love to understand that We have everything under control, We must reveal to them that before We spoke one atom into existence, We had a plan to bring them out of their finite environment into an infinite existence of that which We are.”

      “Therefore,” spoke the Father, “we all agree that when We utter the words, ‘Let there be …,’ one of Us must have already volunteered by saying, ‘I will go.’”  

      “I will volunteer,” agreed the Son.

      “So We all agree,” repeated the Father.

      “Let the beginning begin,” replied the Spirit.