February 6, 2018 - The first of the prophets or preachers to proclaim a baptism for repentance for the forgiveness of sin was John, the son of Zechariah.
“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:1-2)
Soon after Jesus began his ministry the king took John prisoner, eventually beheading him. Jesus moved back to the area of Galilee when he heard that John had been arrested for he understood the fate that John was soon to face, from that time Jesus began to preach the same message that John had preached.
“From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
After the death of Jesus on the cross the message preached by the apostles and deacons of the new church of the Way changed into a more direct message of the sacrifice of Jesus’ life on the cross.
In those early days of the church the apostles at times preached for many hours and did not do the baptizing, that was left for the deacons and disciples who were with the apostles. Paul speaks of this and of the manner of the message that he brought to the churches of Asia Minor.
When speaking to the church at Corinth about some arguments within the church about baptism he said; “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” (1 Corinthians 1:17) Paul is saying that he is to preach, to tell the news of grace, given by Christ that forgiveness of sin can be given to all who repent, asking for forgiveness, believing in Jesus and confessing that belief to all.
That he is not to speak with great or eloquent words but with plain speak so that nothing covers the magnitude of the gift of salvation given by Christ through his death on the cross. He is saying one must be careful to keep the message plain and simple evidencing the sacrifice of Christ that all can understand. He says to preach in this manner as; “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:17) The words being preached must not overpower the words of sacrifice and salvation for that is the true message of the gospel.
“For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and wisdom of God.”(1 Corinthians 1:21-24)
Salvation comes not by wisdom nor signs but by faith alone. For that is the grace of God, that salvation was paid in full by the Lord Jesus Christ.
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.” (1 Corinthians 2:1)
“And my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)
The plain spoken word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ who died for your sins as well as mine and the only way to heaven. May you hear and accept the words of the gospel and may you be forever saved from the penalty of sin...