Is there anything available about the human tradition of Christmas celebrating? ~ In His Service, Rene Voser, Switzerland
Anything and everything one might find regarding Christmas pertains to "human tradition," since the celebration of Christmas is wholly of human origin. Neither the word "Christmas" nor any teaching regarding "Christmas" appears anywhere in the Bible. See our article addressing "Christmas" at the following URL:
I. Would God, Christ and the Holy Spirit be the Persons who created and redeemed our own immortality of life? True or False II. Have we been created and redeemed so that we can become a Divine Person in our Heavenly Home? True or False III. Have we been created and redeemed so that we can become equal (having power, rule and authority) with those Persons who created and redeemed our own immortality of life? True or False ~ Charles Burke
First, "True or False" questions such as these appear to portray a petitioner whose primary objective is not to solicit information, but to provide a platform from which to make a rebuttal and one's presentation of his doctrinal viewpoints. This forum, though, facilitates a single editorial response to a question, without further dialogue from either the petitioner or the Editor. (I'm not omniscient and obviously cannot be certain about any querist's unannounced intentions.) Second, question #1 does not compute; that question is ambiguous at best, incomprehensible and biblically extraneous. The Bible is void of phraseology respecting 'our redemption of immortality of life.'
The next two questions, likewise, depict a doctrine that is not found in the Bible. However, the latter two questions do represent a denominational doctrine that at least is shared by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon Church). The latter two questions represent a false view of the Godhead, supposing that somehow Divine stature is simply a process of graduation attainable by frail humanity. This deficient perspective also pictures an unrealistic view of humanity and the relationship between humanity and Deity.
The respective roles between human worshippers and God in heaven continue after life for earthly inhabitants who begin eternal residency in heaven. The depiction of worship in heaven retains the adoration rendered by the inferior to the superior (Revelation 4:10; 5:14; 7:11-17; 11:16-17). Further, humans at the end of time will not appear in heaven before God to be made equal with him, but to be judged by him hardly a graduation ceremony resulting in the elevation of humanity to the status of Deity (2 Corinthians 5:10-11; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Revelation 20:11-15).
Were the Apostles baptized for the forgiveness of their sins along with the 3000? ~ Pedro Rodriguez, Los Angeles, CA
There is no biblical account of anyone who became a disciple of Christ prior to the establishment of the church in Acts Two, including the apostles, being baptized in Acts Two when the 3,000 were baptized. However, that is quite a different matter from supposing that the early disciples, including the apostles, were not baptized at some time for the forgiveness of their sins. To the contrary, strong biblical evidence exists that the early disciples and apostles were baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, but not in Acts Two when the 3,000 were baptized.
As a forerunner of Christ and a prophet who prepared the way for the ministry of Christ and the establishment of the church, John the Baptist administered a baptism that was for the forgiveness of sins. That baptism also involved repentance, as did the baptism of Acts Two (verse 38). "John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" (Mark 1:4). However, the actual reception of the forgiveness of sins was not received when one received the baptism of John the Baptist, but was contingent on the then pending vicarious sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, his subsequent resurrection and Ascension. Likewise, the faithful practice of Patriarchy and Judaism with their animal sacrifices and blood atonement did not provide forgiveness of sins prior to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
"For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins" (Hebrews 10:1-4).
Jesus, though, shed his blood on the cross that mankind might actually receive the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28). Obedience to Divine law under Patriarchy and Judaism (including the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ) netted the forgiveness of sins after the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary.
The apostles, then, plus the 120 disciples of Acts One, 500 other disciples (1 Corinthians 15:6) and as many more disciples of Christ there may have been prior to Acts Two, and who were baptized in the baptism of John the Baptist, had no need of being baptized again in Acts Two when the 3,000 were baptized. The apostles, the 120, the 500 and other disciples of Christ from the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ comprised the initial church of Acts Two, to which the 3,000 were added (by Christ, verse 47) following their baptisms (verse 41).
After Acts Two, when the Lord's church was established, the baptism of John the Baptist was no longer valid. That is, from Acts Two when the baptism of the Great Commission (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38) was first administered forward, not John's baptism but the one valid baptism (Ephesians 4:5) for the Christian Age only was effective for the forgiveness of sins. Acts 19:1-7 chronicles 12 disciples who were baptized in John's baptism apparently after that baptism had been replaced with the Great Commission baptism. Therefore, the apostle Paul baptized those persons (again) in the baptism of the Great Commission, or the baptism administered in Acts Two.
John's baptism and the Great Commission baptism were similar in that they both involved repentance and baptism for the purpose of persons receiving the forgiveness of sins. They differed in that John's baptism looked ahead to the cross of Christ and Christian baptism looks backward to the cross of Christ (Acts 19). John's baptism rendered forgiveness of sins only after the sacrifice of Christ, whereas the baptism of the Great Commission is the point at which persons since Acts Two receive forgiveness of sins. "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 3:21). "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…" (Acts 2:38).
All persons now living are amenable to the Gospel of Christ and its terms for forgiveness of sins. No one now living can be saved by attempting to comply with either Patriarchy or Judaism (inclusive of anything relative to the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ). "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law [of Moses]; ye are fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:4). There is only one baptism effective today (Ephesians 4:5). It is the baptism practiced in Acts 2:38. It is immersion in water (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12; Acts 8:36-39). It is for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 22:16) or salvation (1 Peter 3:21). It is the only baptism that is commanded (Acts 10:48). As essential as Christian baptism is, it must be preceded by hearing God's Word (Romans 10:17), faith (John 8:24), repentance (Acts 17:30) and professing Jesus to be Christ (Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9-10). To be truly effective, Christian baptism must be followed by faithfulness (Revelation 2:10).
A brother asks about the meaning of Acts 10:47, "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" The primary element involved in Christian baptism, water, is mentioned to represent the entirety of the process of baptism. Acts chapters Ten and Eleven record the taking of the Gospel message to the Gentile world as it was presented to Cornelius and those who gathered with him. The Jews had a longstanding bias toward everyone who was not Jewish (e.g., Samaritans, Gentiles). Jewish converts to Christianity brought with them this heightened prejudice against non-Jews. Only the remarkable incidents that happened to Peter in Joppa and then in Caesarea convinced, first Peter and then the six Jewish Christians who accompanied Peter, that the Gentiles also were intended by God to be the recipients of the Gospel message with its attendant blessings, including membership in the Lord's church. Peter, at one point later, failed to distance himself from this bias against Gentiles (Galatians 2:11-14). Judaizing Christians also preached a distorted Gospel respecting Gentile admission to the church, which crisis was largely resolved by the apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 15).
Peter asked the six Jewish brethren who accompanied him, that in view of the obvious stamp of divine approval on the Gentiles' reception of the Gospel message (evidenced by the bestowal of miraculous powers directly from heaven on those Gentiles), how could they do anything but proceed to baptize those Gentiles. It was a rhetorical question, the answer to which was, "We cannot, we dare not, resist the expressed intent of the Holy Spirit; we must baptize these Gentiles."
Many erroneously suppose that Peter's mention of the "Holy Ghost" here, where he assigns its prior reception to himself and the six Jewish brethren with him, is a reference to the baptism of the Holy Spirit of Acts Two. The promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was promised exclusively to the apostles of Christ (John 14-16; Acts 1:8) and received exclusively by the apostles in Acts Two (Acts 1:26-2:4). However, what Peter as well as the six Jewish Christians who accompanied Peter had received in common was the ability to perform miracles, most notably speaking in languages in which they had not been schooled ("tongues"). From the text, it is not certain (though probable) that each of the Jewish Christians with Peter could perform miracles. The real comparison Peter was making was that the Jews and now the Gentiles also (the two groups of humanity from the Jewish perspective) was both the recipient of miraculous gifts. That fact signified God's intention that both Jews and Gentiles were intended by God to share the blessings of the Gospel and membership in the Lord's church (Ephesians 2:11-22).
The miraculous bestowal of gifts to Cornelius and those with him could not have been alternatively bestowed by an apostle, such as Peter. The apostles were subject to the same Jewish biases of their countrymen. Besides, in the face of widespread resistance to the inclusion of the Gentiles in the church, the testimony of the Godhead through the direct bestowal of gifts and the implied stamp of approval, definitively settled the Gentile question in the minds of those who hearkened to God. The direct bestowal of miraculous gifts on Cornelius and those gathered with him is immaterial to and not directly related to the baptism of the Holy Spirit promised to and received by the apostles exclusively.