Thursday, December 14, 2017

An Israelite asked Moses, “Who made you . . . judge?”  (Exodus 2:14).  Moses thought he was doing the right thing by stopping the slave master.  Surely the Israelites would appreciate his help?  Would he not be like a savior to them?  Would he not only plead their cause, but defend their rights?  So, why is this man questioning Moses?  He is questioning Moses’ right to judge.  God hasn’t yet appeared to Moses.  This is something he decided to do.  If we stand up for what is right, yet God is absent, how virtuous is our righteousness?

Peter was told “three times” by God to “eat,” but refused (Acts 10:9-18).  He had to take a 36-mile (58 kilometer) journey before he understood God’s vision and command (Acts 10:33-34).  Was he guilty of sin each time he refused to eat?  He was “right,” according to the Law of Moses, by refusing to eat the “unclean.”  He was wrong to refuse, since he was no longer bound by that law, and God was giving him a direct order!  He was right, but wrong!  His religious culture demanded a “No” answer from him.  His culture was stronger than God’s word!  Have you ever been in a similar situation?  Since he refused to obey three direct orders from God, would you consider anyone following his example to need repentance and restoration?  What is your judgment based upon?  Is it your culture, your religious ideology, your comfort zone, or God’s word?

Peter had sixteen hundred years of proof behind him that no Jew should ever eat unclean food.  Why would God command him to eat that which was unlawful?  Perhaps it was a test to see if he would disobey the Law of Moses?  So, he said, “No” to God to prove his faithfulness!  Yet, he was wrong.  He was just as wrong as some that later insisted that Gentiles must be circumcised before they were saved (Acts 15:1,5).  We think they were wrong, but as Christian Pharisees, they were “zealous for the Law” and were obedience to it.  They were circumcised on the eighth day after their birth, just like Jesus!  Why should a Gentile not submit to circumcision as they and Jesus had?  Do Gentiles not want to be under God’s covenant?  Do they not want to follow Jesus’ example?  What is your judgment based upon?  Is it your culture, your religious ideology, your comfort zone, or God’s word?

Acts 15 is the only time that anyone questioned another’s baptism.  However, this is after the Gentiles had been immersed.  Did Peter or anyone query candidates before immersion?  Some churches will vote on whether to accept an individual into their membership prior to baptism.  We believe that practice is not described in scripture.  Yet, if baptism comes prior to God’s adding one to the saved, and we refuse to immerse that candidate, isn’t that decision in the same category?  What is your judgment based upon?

About three thousand “gladly receive his word” and “were baptized(Acts 2:41).  Did Peter and the others question anyone before they agreed to immerse them?  If they did, is that not the same as voting on folks before baptizing them?  Isn’t that making man the one that determines who will or will not be added to the saved?  What is your judgment based upon?  Is it based upon your culture, your religious ideology, your comfort zone, or God’s word?

Except for elders and deacons, some Jews had more than one wife.  Is there any evidence that one was told to give up the last wife before he could be immersed (1 Timothy 3:2, 12)?  Were the Pharisees, who wished to be immersed, questioned and told they must rid themselves of their party membership before immersion (Acts 15:5)?  Before Philemon could be baptized, was his slave ownership questioned?  Was he told he must free all his slaves before receiving immersion?  Was baptism withheld from an idol worshiper until he proved he had destroyed all his images and no longer attended their temple events?  Before he was immersed, was he questioned as to whether he though idols were realities (1 Corinthians 8:1-18)?   If that was the case, couldn’t we broaden that spectrum and require every candidate to make sure he knew the whole truth before immersion?  Shouldn’t he be given an oral exam to see if he knows enough of the Bible to be a genuine member of the body of Christ?  If that is the right path to follow, what individual would be the one to set the standard for all candidates?  Which individuals would be allowed to pass before they deserved the right to be immersed?  God knows their heart.  If their heart is not right, we just get them wet.  What if it is right and we refuse?  What is your judgment based upon?

Perhaps the question asked by that Israelite in Moses’ day, needs to be asked in ours.  “Who made you the judge?”