The question of why we require Sunday-keeping Christians to be re-baptized recently came to my attention. It’s a fair question. After one has spent many years walking with the Lord, it seems redundant to have to repeat the baptism ceremony. Why ask these Christians to be re-baptized just because they were not keeping God’s Sabbath? Is the Sabbath really such a big deal?

Focus on the Law

First, let’s not get hung up on the Sabbath. The Sabbath is no more of an issue than any other commandment of God. God says in Rev 12:9, that Satan actively deceives. Consequently, people do not understand the importance of God’s Law. They do not believe the breaking of God’s commandments matters. Many of these people come to recognize Jesus as Lord but, unfortunately, they still do not understand the importance of God’s Law. We know otherwise. God’s Law is His way of life. It is the way of love. It is impossible to attain eternal life in a state of rebellion to God’s Law.

The first step in our walk with God is repentance. The second is to be baptized. This is made clear in Acts 2:38. These steps are essential before God grants us His Holy Spirit (the deposit on eternal life). God will not grant eternal life to someone who does not conform to His way of life. God’s way of life brings peace to us and to others. Breaking God’s Law brings misery.

The issue is not whether or not one keeps the Sabbath, the issue is whether or not one keeps God’s Law. This is the fundamental issue. Ignorance of the law doesn’t matter. Romans 2:11-12 says:

11 For there is no respect of persons with God.12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

If someone came to the church of God with multiple partners, God would require them to repent and be baptized. The breaking of God’s Sabbath is no different. The Sabbath is one of God’s Ten Commandments. James 2:10 says,

10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point , he is guilty of all.11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

James could have equally said “For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Keep the Sabbath. Now if you commit no adultery, yet you break the Sabbath, you’re a transgressor of the law.”

Now Focus on the Sabbath

Some have said that we focus too much on the Sabbath. It appears this way only because we live in a Sabbath-breaking culture. The breaking of other commandments does prick the conscience of most people. It is, therefore, easy for them to recognize the need to repent.  They do not realize that the Sabbath is a foundational part of God’s system of worship. The first four of the Ten Commandments show us how to love God. (The last six show us how to love our fellow man.) The Sabbath is the fourth command and God commands us to observe it so that we can worship Him in spirit and in truth. In fact, before man was created, God created the sun and moon to enable man to know the appointed times to worship God. You will see this in Gen 1:14, where God says:

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years:

The word “seasons” in this verse is the Hebrew word “moad”. Here is the definition from Strong’s:

4150. dEowøm mow{ed, mo-ade´; or dEoOm moled, mo-ade´; or (feminine) h∂dDowøm moweadah(2 Chronicles 8:13), mo-aw-daw´; from 3259; properly, an appointment, i.e. a fixed time or season; specifically, a festival; conventionally a year; by implication, an assembly (as convened for a definite purpose); technically the congregation; by extension, the place of meeting; also a signal (as appointed beforehand):—appointed (sign, time), (place of, solemn) assembly, congregation, (set, solemn) feast, (appointed, due) season, solemn(-ity), synogogue, (set) time (appointed).

God has set times for us to worship Him. We welcome everyone to come and fellowship with us at these appointed times. And yes, if you have not been keeping God’s commandments, we will encourage you to repent and be baptized as the first steps in your new walk with God.

If you have questions or comments, please let us know. We’re happy to talk with you.

  • Name withheld

    I see what you are saying, but it does not address the issue because of a fundamental error I believe that we continue to make as do the “churches of God”.

    The fundamental understanding of why Christ came and His role, the works of men Heb 9: 1-10 – similar to Cain’s work versus the Eternal work of God Heb 9:11-28. It does that mean that we become mainstream to believe in the Justifying, sanctifying and saving blood of Jesus Christ.

    When we have faith in Jesus Christ, it gives us access to the shed blood of Jesus Christ which justifies us.

    Ac 13:38-39 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

    A critical question here is this: Assuming that the individuals have believed in Jesus Christ, have truly repented, and were baptized, the same principle which applies to the Sunday/ Sabbath only keeper for breaking the Sabbath and/or not keeping the Holy days, does this not also apply to the Sabbath and Holy day keeper when they break the law too?

    Ro 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
    Isa 64:6 ¶ But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

    If a Sabbath keeper is to be rebaptized when one comes into the knowledge of the Holy Days, then following the same principle, the Holy Day keeper must be rebaptized each time they are lead into knowledge one had not understood before? Is that biblical? And by teaching this are we hindering the work of God?

    Ro 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
    Joh 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
    If one has been walking with God for many years and is bearing the fruit of the Spirit of God yet is not keeping “the law” does the bible teach that they are a heathen?
    Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

    The scriptures teach that the Spirit guides (the Sabbaths keeper and the non-Sabbaths keepers) into all truth.
    The Bible teaches that the foundation is Christ, the foundation is not the law (otherwise Christ did not need to come). The law is important and is required by God, but the gift of the Grace of God through Jesus Christ (understanding the inner sanctuary, the blood of Jesus Christ and why HE came helps us to understand the gift of the grace of God) is MOST CRITICAL.

    Ro 3:21-28 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
    Eph 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

    Christ death would be in vain if we were justified by the deeds of the law.

    Ga 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
    Ro 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

    No man or woman is justified by the works of the law yet those who are justified must be doers of the law.

    Ro 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
    Jas 2:24-25 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

    Also, if a “Sabbaths keeper” came into the congregation, not believing in Jesus Christ, this person NEEDs to be baptized. A lesson from the Old Testament.

    • Bro. Adrian

      Thank you for your question/comment. Let me begin by summarizing my understanding of what you are saying:
      You believe that anyone who has repented, accepts Jesus Christ, and has been baptized does not have to be re-baptized once they come to the Church of God. You believe this for the following reasons:
      1. When we have faith in Jesus, it gives us access to His blood, which justifies us.
      2. If people without knowledge of the Sabbath have to be re-baptized, then every believer who sins or comes into greater knowledge of God’s ways would then need to be re-baptized.
      3. The scriptures teach that Spirit guides the Sabbath-keeper and the non-Sabbath-keeper into all truth.
      4. The Bible teaches that the foundation is Christ; the foundation is not the Law.
      5. Christ’s death would be in vain if we were justified by the deeds of the Law.
      6. If a Sabbaths keeper came into the congregation that did not believe in Jesus Christ, this person would have to be baptized.
      You also asked the question, “If one has been walking with God for many years and is bearing the fruit of the Spirit of God, yet is not keeping the Law, does the Bible teach that they are a heathen?”
      Points 5 and 6 I agree with. In no way are we justified by the deeds of the law. This does not, however, give us permission to break the law. Point 6 is obvious.
      Let me begin with your third point: The scriptures teach that the Spirit guides the Sabbath-keeper and the non-Sabbath-keeper into all truth.
      The Bible teaches no such thing! It is important that we read the scriptures with precision. Jesus was speaking to His disciples when He spoke of the Spirit’s guidance. We see this in John 16:13.
      John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
      Notice, Christ was speaking to His disciples, and by extension, His people. In addition to guiding His people into all truth, the Holy Spirit will also show us things to come. God does not have this intimate relationship with lawless people. He has it with those who have repented of their lawlessness and who are striving to live His way of giving and loving – codified in His Law.
      In your second point, you state: If people without knowledge of the Sabbath have to be re-baptized, then every believer who sins or comes into greater knowledge of God’s ways would then need to be re-baptized. There is a clear error in this reasoning. Walking with God is a process. It begins with the initial conviction that one is a sinner and one must repent and be baptized. Upon baptism and the receipt of the Holy Spirit, only then does one truly begin their journey towards the destiny God has prepared for us. This journey is life-long and along the way, we make many mistakes. God does not dismiss us when we sin, nor does he require us to start all over again at baptism. When we sin (not willingly) after baptism, there is a different provision for dealing with the sin of a believer than there is for dealing with initial repentance and entering into a covenant relationship with God. That provision is found in 1 John 2.
      1John 2:1 ¶ My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
      With initial repentance, one is required to symbolically bury the old man and make a covenant with God. As we struggle with the old man to subject him to the Law of God, we sometimes fail. When we fail, Jesus Christ advocates on our behalf.
      You said in your comment, “assuming that the individuals have believed in Jesus Christ, have truly repented, and were baptized…”. This is a big assumption. What is repentance? Repentance is the turning away from sin. What is sin? Sin is the transgression of God’s Law. In order to repent, one must first know what sin is. By definition, one must know God’s Law. The divinely appointed times for worship are an integral part of God’s Law. They represent the God-appointed methodology for worshiping Him. How valid can a baptism be if the individual being baptized does not understand what sin is and the individual baptizing them is unable to articulate to them of what sins they should be repenting?
      You said, in your fourth point, that the foundation is Christ not the Law. It is a common but mistaken notion to separate Christ and the Law. Christ and His Law are one. The Law is how He lives. He gives us the Holy Spirit to enable us to keep His Law.
      Remember, Christ was slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8). Why? He was slain because the breaking of His Law, without exception, exacts a penalty. God never dismisses the penalty. Consequently, Jesus Christ came as a man to incur the death penalty on our behalf. This means that the Law is embedded in the foundation. It is foundational. People run into trouble because Christ’s sacrifice eliminated the need for many of the rituals laid down under Mosaic Law. It did not, however, eliminate God’s Ten Commandments which pre-date Moses. People often fail to differentiate between ritualistic law and the Ten Commandments.
      This brings us to your question, “If one has been walking with God for many years and is bearing the fruit of the Spirit of God, yet is not keeping the Law, does the Bible teach that they are a heathen?”
      One cannot walk with God and break His Law. This is a contradiction. Walking with God means walking like God which means keeping His Law. This is why Romans says:
      Rom. 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
      When one surrenders to God, one does not seek to come up with their own definition of righteousness or their own definition of sin. One accepts that God is sovereign and He alone defines sin and righteousness. He tells us that, by nature, we do not want to accept His Law. The very scripture you quoted (Gal 5:22-23) explains that with the Holy Spirit, one lives in such a way that they come under God’s authority and within the bounds of His Law. There is no law against such behaviour.
      Your main point, which I listed first (When we have faith in Jesus, it gives us access to His blood, which justifies us.), makes no allowance for the works which must accompany our faith. Belief is not enough as clearly pointed out in James 2.
      James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
      In addition to faith, we must also have works. Jesus Christ Himself upbraided those who called Him “Lord Lord” but didn’t do the things that He required them to do (Luke 6:46). They recognized Him as Lord, they just had their own ideas about what was required and what wasn’t. This is unacceptable to God.
      Faith in Christ is not just faith in the person of Christ. It is faith in what He preached and He preached the gospel of the kingdom of God. One cannot truly understand this gospel, without first understanding God’s Holy Days. These divine appointments are sacred and we must learn to separate the sacred from the profane if we are to come to worship God in spirit and in truth. These special days depict God’s plan and unveil the good news (i.e., the gospel) of the kingdom of God.
      Anyone who has truly repented, is convicted of the truth and has come to believe in the teachings, not just the person, of Christ, will not hesitate to be re-baptized.
      I thank you for your question/comment and I’m happy to continue the dialog as we humbly seek to conform to God’s will.

      • Guest

        Interesting conversation. I am a CGI member, but I do not think that it is biblical to require sunday-keepers to be re-baptized. The whole notion does put law over conviction. Baptism is a an outward sign of our conviction to Christ. Consider the thief on the cross. He was not baptized, but was promised eternal life. To say that only those who are in the Church of God movement can obtain eternal life is putting God in a box. It puts the letter of the law over the spirit of the law. The Gentiles (in Romans) had a law unto themselves and kept by nature what God required. This did not include the sabbath. Yes, the law is important, but it is not everything. It points us in the right direction, but it is not the road that leads us there.

        • Luana

          I have to agree with your post on Sunday-keepers not needing to be baptized. However, I think it is a truly individual decision. I grew up in the Church of God movement and for me it was my “religion” even though I accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour. When the organization was split over doctrinal error, I left and joined the “Sunday-keepers” for many years. However, I always knew Sunday was never the Sabbath. I then became rebaptized as I learned that the Lord, Jesus, not an organization was the head of my life. I recommitted myself to Him and got rebaptized into the body of Messiah all the while attending a Sunday church (but I would never have called myself a Sunday-Keeper). This time I took my personal Messiah by the hand and allowed Him to show me His ways.

          During my journey to know Him more deeply, I have slowly moved towards His Torah in this personal relationship with Him. It has been a journey that only He can guide me through. No, I would not get rebaptized a third time. Each time we sin and break God’s law as He shows us, we come to our Lord who is faithful and just to forgive us of all unrighteousness. We all break God’s law all the time in our hearts and minds and in what we say and do. That is why we need the blood of Jesus to cover us and redeem us for the law could never save us but would continually condemn us. Remember the tares and the wheat grow up together. They both look the same. Only Jesus knows who belongs to Him and who doesn’t. He is the one who owns the field.

          • To answer this question one must first understand the scriptural requirements for baptism. Doing this will help you to discover whether your baptism was valid and whether you need rebaptism.

            The scriptures teach that before one can be baptized one must repent of sin.
            In Acts 2:38 the Apostle Peter says, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

            What is repentance and how does one repent of sin?
            Repentance means “to turn” from sin. It implies a conscious decision to forsake sin – that is to stop sinning and walk in holiness.

            To stop sinning, one must know what sin is. Why? Because one will not know what to stop doing to stop sinning. One must know what sin is to repent and “turn” from sin. So what is sin? 1 John 3:4 tells us: “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is the transgression of the Law” Did you get that? The Bible defines what sin is. But most persons abandon the Bible’s definition of sin because the majority of churches in shich people are baptized teach that the law has been abolished. The Bible says sin is the transgression of the law yet people are baptized in ignorance to what sin is. That is why many who were baptized outside the Church of God continue to live in sin without knowing it by breaking God’s Sabbath and Holy Days. They are living in sin because they do not know what sin is. One who is baptized has died to sin. Paul confronted this issue in the predominantly gentile church in Rome when he asked “How can we who died to sin go on living in it? (Romans 6:2). The Bible is clear that without the knowledge of sin we will go on living in sin.

            How does one come to know sin?
            Rom. 3:2 answers us. It say “Through the law comes the knowledge of sin” That’s right. One does not know what sin is until one comes to know God’s Law. That is why the Bible says the law leads us to Christ. Because the law exposes our sinful state to us so we can see our need for Christ. The Law does not save us. The law points out sin and condemns us. It is Christ who redeems us from the condemnation of the law. But here is the sixty-four million question posed by Paul in Rom 6:1-4 Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

            The role of the law is to point out our sins to us. What is this law? Rom 7:7 explains… I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” There it is. The law referred to here is the Ten Commandments which include the Sabbath. If after you were baptized you lived a life of Sabbath-breaking you were breaking God’s law and you continued to live in sin. You were baptized without knowing what to repent of. You thought you turned from sin but you did not. Satan has deceived the world and cause good people to feel safe when they are in danger by breaking God’s law. Alas, many in God’s Church have been wooed into this deception.
            Many who were baptized did not know they were still living in sin until they came into the Church of God and learned how vital the keeping of God’s law is to their salvation.

            Does God give His Holy Spirit to one who is breaking His Law?
            One who lives in a state of law breaking is constantly living in sin and does not have the Spirit of God. Why? Because Acts 5:32 says: God gives his Spirit to those who obey him” You may ask, “obey what?” What is it we are called upon to obey so that we may receive God’s Spirit? Jesus answers this question in Matthew 19:17 If you want to enter life, obey the commandments” He then explained what these commandments are by referring in verse 18 to the Ten Commandments And the ruler asked,, “Which ones?” Jesus replied, ” ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother and love your neighbor as yourself.'”
            Because we live in a Sabbath breaking, culture where almost everybody goes to church on Sunday our society does not regard Sabbath keeping as sin but the Bible does. Many do not regard the breaking of God’s 4th commandment (Sabbath-breaking) as sin yet these same persons regard the breaking of God’s 7th commandment (Adultery) as sin. Why would it be a sin to break God’s 7th commandment but not a sin to break God’s 4th commandment? Nowhere is this justified by the Bible. The Bible says the commandments are all equal. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker” (James 2:10-11).

            A baptized Christian obeys God’s commandments
            1 John 2:4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. This clearly means a Sabbath breaker like an adulterer or a liar live in sin. If you are a Sabbath-breaker and you were baptized your baptism is not valid you need to be re-baptized.

            A Further Note:
            The Bible clearly teaches that the Gospel is given exclusively to the Church of God and is not preached outside the Church of God. Consequently one cannot hear and believe the Gospel except they come in contact with the Church of God. The Church of God is made up of Jesus Christ (its Head) and the saints, with God the Father above us all. It is exclusively to the saints -those who keep the Commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev 12:17) that God has revealed the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations Col 1:26, and it is exclusively the saints that God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, in Christ Jesus (Col 1:27). The saints are Christ’s ambassadors, through whom God is making his appeal (2 Cor 5:19-20. They are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved (2 Cor 2:15). No other group on the planet has received the Gospel or authority to preach it. No one can hear the Gospel except through the saints. The saints are called upon to contend for this Gospel (Jude 3) and to entrust it to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others (2 Tim 2:2).

            Those who come in contact with the Gospel therefore, also come in contact with the Church of God and its practices of worship. The Gospel is preached not only in word but in deed. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds (Matt 5:16). Those who are called into the Church follow our example (2 Thess 3:7) and become imitators of us and of the Lord; (1 Thess 1: 6). And so they too become a model to all the believers (1 Thess 1: 7). Those who come into the Church are instructed to put into practice whatever they have learned or received or heard, or see in us (Phil 4:9)

            That is how God in his wisdom has designed the Gospel to be preached and practiced in the world. Israel was “the Church in the Wilderness” God said he had not dealt likewise with any other nation. Israel alone was called to be a light to the nations and entrusted with the oracle of God. That is what the spiritual Israel of God is today.

          • Anonymous

            To answer this question one must first understand the scriptural requirements for baptism. Doing this will help you to discover whether your baptism was valid and whether you need rebaptism.

            The scriptures teach that before one can be baptized one must repent of sin.
            In Acts 2:38 the Apostle Peter says, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

            What is repentance and how does one repent of sin?
            Repentance means “to turn” from sin. It implies a conscious decision to forsake sin – that is to stop sinning and walk in holiness.

            To stop sinning, one must know what sin is. Why? Because one will not know what to stop doing to stop sinning. One must know what sin is to repent and “turn” from sin. So what is sin? 1 John 3:4 tells us: “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is the transgression of the Law” Did you get that? The Bible defines what sin is. But most persons abandon the Bible’s definition of sin because the majority of churches in shich people are baptized teach that the law has been abolished. The Bible says sin is the transgression of the law yet people are baptized in ignorance to what sin is. That is why many who were baptized outside the Church of God continue to live in sin without knowing it by breaking God’s Sabbath and Holy Days. They are living in sin because they do not know what sin is. One who is baptized has died to sin. Paul confronted this issue in the predominantly gentile church in Rome when he asked “How can we who died to sin go on living in it? (Romans 6:2). The Bible is clear that without the knowledge of sin we will go on living in sin.

            How does one come to know sin?
            Rom. 3:2 answers us. It say “Through the law comes the knowledge of sin” That’s right. One does not know what sin is until one comes to know God’s Law. That is why the Bible says the law leads us to Christ. Because the law exposes our sinful state to us so we can see our need for Christ. The Law does not save us. The law points out sin and condemns us. It is Christ who redeems us from the condemnation of the law. But here is the sixty-four million question posed by Paul in Rom 6:1-4 Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

            The role of the law is to point out our sins to us. What is this law? Rom 7:7 explains… I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” There it is. The law referred to here is the Ten Commandments which include the Sabbath. If after you were baptized you lived a life of Sabbath-breaking you were breaking God’s law and you continued to live in sin. You were baptized without knowing what to repent of. You thought you turned from sin but you did not. Satan has deceived the world and cause good people to feel safe when they are in danger by breaking God’s law. Alas, many in God’s Church have been wooed into this deception.
            Many who were baptized did not know they were still living in sin until they came into the Church of God and learned how vital the keeping of God’s law is to their salvation.

            Does God give His Holy Spirit to one who is breaking His Law?
            One who lives in a state of law breaking is constantly living in sin and does not have the Spirit of God. Why? Because Acts 5:32 says: God gives his Spirit to those who obey him” You may ask, “obey what?” What is it we are called upon to obey so that we may receive God’s Spirit? Jesus answers this question in Matthew 19:17 If you want to enter life, obey the commandments” He then explained what these commandments are by referring in verse 18 to the Ten Commandments And the ruler asked,, “Which ones?” Jesus replied, ” ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother and love your neighbor as yourself.'”
            Because we live in a Sabbath breaking, culture where almost everybody goes to church on Sunday our society does not regard Sabbath keeping as sin but the Bible does. Many do not regard the breaking of God’s 4th commandment (Sabbath-breaking) as sin yet these same persons regard the breaking of God’s 7th commandment (Adultery) as sin. Why would it be a sin to break God’s 7th commandment but not a sin to break God’s 4th commandment? Nowhere is this justified by the Bible. The Bible says the commandments are all equal. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker” (James 2:10-11).

            A baptized Christian obeys God’s commandments
            1 John 2:4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. This clearly means a Sabbath breaker like an adulterer or a liar live in sin. If you are a Sabbath-breaker and you were baptized your baptism is not valid you need to be re-baptized.

            A Further Note:
            The Bible clearly teaches that the Gospel is given exclusively to the Church of God and is not preached outside the Church of God. Consequently one cannot hear and believe the Gospel except they come in contact with the Church of God. The Church of God is made up of Jesus Christ (its Head) and the saints, with God the Father above us all. It is exclusively to the saints -those who keep the Commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev 12:17) that God has revealed the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations Col 1:26, and it is exclusively the saints that God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, in Christ Jesus (Col 1:27). The saints are Christ’s ambassadors, through whom God is making his appeal (2 Cor 5:19-20. They are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved (2 Cor 2:15). No other group on the planet has received the Gospel or authority to preach it. No one can hear the Gospel except through the saints. The saints are called upon to contend for this Gospel (Jude 3) and to entrust it to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others (2 Tim 2:2).

            Those who come in contact with the Gospel therefore, also come in contact with the Church of God and its practices of worship. The Gospel is preached not only in word but in deed. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds (Matt 5:16). Those who are called into the Church follow our example (2 Thess 3:7) and become imitators of us and of the Lord; (1 Thess 1: 6). And so they too become a model to all the believers (1 Thess 1: 7). Those who come into the Church are instructed to put into practice whatever they have learned or received or heard, or see in us (Phil 4:9)

            That is how God in his wisdom has designed the Gospel to be preached and practiced in the world. Israel was “the Church in the Wilderness” God said he had not dealt likewise with any other nation. Israel alone was called to be a light to the nations and entrusted with the oracle of God. That is what the spiritual Israel of God is today.

          • Drew DeJarnette

            You say that the bible clearly teaches that the Gospel is the exclusive rights of the COG. I have strong issues with this statement. Your statement has several implications.

            The first one is that HWA had direct revelation from God and was thus a prophet. However, it can be shown (and many have shown it) that HWA borrowed a large portion of the COG doctrines from other sources, i.e. not from God. The most obvious example is his most famous and influential book, the United States and Britain in Prophesy. A similar book written by J.H. Allen several years before Armstrong was a minister contains much of the information Armstrong published. Often times, there is word for word similarities to the extent of calling it plagiarism. The problem is, Armstrong claimed that his information was from a direct line with God. This example is not unique. I dare say none of the COG’s doctrine are unique and that you can find the holy days, clean and unclean, sabbath, and much more being observed by other groups before Armstrong came on the scene. If one argues that HWA received direct revelation from God and that no one else on the planet has received such revelation, how can you explain the similarities between the COG movement and the duplication of doctrine from pre-COG organizations. This does not even address the many failed prophesies of HWA concerning the immanent return of Christ that he never occurred in his lifetime, which I will not get into here.

            Second, your statement implies that no other church has access to God’s Holy spirit and that his Spirit does not indwell in members of non-COG congregations. Or, at the very least that one could definitively prove that those in the COG movement have a much stronger connection to God and His blessings and miracles. Personal experience had taught me otherwise. I know first hand that people outside of the COG are influenced by the Holy Spirit. One such example is in healing. I know people very well who have had miraculous healing after being administered to by non-COG ministers. If the Holy Spirit is not in work in them, how can one explain this? Why would God allow a healing of this sort as it would only reinforce their lawless beliefs? Would someone who was healed in their faith movement really consider that God was not present there? How could they justify searching for the “true” church if they new God was at work where they are? The only explanation I can think of is that the miracles are demonic in origin, which I cannot and will not accept. Furthermore, WWCG preached that their members had a lower divorce rate and overall happier families as a direct result of the COG being God’s chosen people. I find no statistical evidence for such a claim, nor do I find it accurate based upon my experiences. We in the COG have just as many unhappy families, divorces, “rebellious” children, etc. than any other church or even in the secular world.

            Third, your quote from Col 1 is out of context. Colossians was written to a first century church so to use the text to imply a modern revelation is misinterpret what the author is writing. The greek work used for mystery conveys a previously unknown truth that has now been revealed and cannot be interpreted before its divine revelation. Paul is using the term in reference to what Christ came to do and the mystery revealed to the apostles which was sent out with the gospel. We cannot take that scripture to imply that all generation preceding the COG movement were in a time of unrevealed truth and that God has revealed the mystery of law-keeping to a modern generation.

            With this said, I think it is important to state that I am a MAP candidate and have every interest to serve Christ, wherever that takes me. But, the law is a sign on the road, but not the road itself. The law adds absolutely nothing to my salvation (Romans in its entirety). I am saved by the works of Christ. No works of mine can come close to or have any bearing on my salvation. Only my faith in His righteousness can do that. It is because of His saving Grace that I do good works in order to bring others to Him, not to bring them to the COG. I have no interest in “filling our pews”, but have every interest in bringing people to Christ.

          • Drew

            The above response is mine, but it listed me as guest so I thought I would clarify as to my name. This is Drew DeJarnette.

          • Hi Drew,

            To identify yourself in comments, you can either create a Disqus account or enter your Name and Email address with each comment

          • Georgeramocan

            The name “Church of God” (COG) is not to be confused with the corporate
            titles given to various groups and congregations within the Church of God.
            The WCG led by Mr. Armstrong was a corporate group within the COG – it did
            not constitute the COG as many erroneously believe. The Church of God did
            not originate with Mr. Armstrong.

            Drew, if you read my comment carefully, I think you’ll see that there is no
            need for extended comments relating to Mr. Armstrong and the WCG. My
            comment clearly defined that the Church of God is headed by Jesus Christ,
            not Mr. Armstrong as you suggested. The Church of God is made up of the
            “saints” – those God has called out of the world and given His Holy Spirit.
            The Church of God is not an organization but a spiritual organism. It
            predates the Church in the wilderness and the New Testament, hence members
            of the COG included Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who will be part of the first
            resurrection with us the saints in God’s Church today.

            There is therefore no need for us to discuss Mr. Armstrong and the WCG in
            this post. The subject of this post is “IS REBAPTISM NECESSARY?”

            On another note, to all our readers, we welcome your comments. However,
            simply stating one’s opinions, feelings and personal experiences on the
            subject isn’t sufficient. We are looking for a rigorous exploration of the
            scriptures to bring light to this subject.

          • Drew D

            It has been my experience that many disagreements are not solved by extensive debate, but by having clear definitions. Many times people have very similar ideas, but define terms differently, and so debate on issues they agree upon. For that reason, I thank you for defining the terms you used. With that said, I would say that I agree with your previous post but disagree on the definition of keeping God’s commandments. Though that is a different topic and can be discussed elsewhere.

          • Hi Bro. Drew,

            Thanks for your posts. Let’s not view this thread as a debate, but rather a discussion. In a debate, both sides are intractable and entrenched in their “positions”. Unlike many religious organizations, we are not intractable. We are open to God’s word and we will change when we can see from God’s word that we are wrong or our understanding is incomplete. As we mutually and publicly explore God’s word, everyone benefits. I think it’s great that others can see that we are not all yellow pencils forced to believe whatever a man says. We can think for ourselves and read God’s word for ourselves. It’s also good for them to see the reverence we have for God’s word and how we reason with each other based on God’s word.

            What’s most important is that we hold God’s word paramount and we treat each other with mutual respect, honour and grace. Please see my recent post on a great example of humility that we can all learn from. http://wp.me/p1gmRv-bZ

            We look forward to more contributions from you and I hope everyone will approach this delicate topic with the utmost care, respect and concern for one another.

            With respect,

            Bro. Adrian

          • George

            Hi Drew.

            As Pastor Ramocan said, HWA and the COG are not synonymous. Just because we are in the COG does not mean that we automatically stop sinning. Therefore, your comments regarding HWA are irrelevant to the discussion.

            Moreover, the distinction is that when we sin in the COG we can confess our sins and receive forgiveness. How do you receive forgiveness when you are deceived and you don’t even believe you need to ask forgiveness for your sins? If I celebrate Christmas, Easter and keep Sunday as the Lord’s day and yet don’t believe these are contrary to God’s way then am I confessing my sin? You don’t believe that breaking the 4th commandment is sin? Substituting for the 4th commandment is a sin. In fact, the 4th commandment deals with the issue or spirit of worship. Worship deals with what we believe about God and His way. Therefore, what we believe or our doctrines constitute our faith. If we keep holidays that were never commanded by God, invent a day of worship which God never authorized, then we are sinning no matter how “good” we are.

            Regarding healing to identify God’s people let me ask you a question. I know many people who are prayed for who do not receive God’s healing gift. Are they Christians? Are some of them really good people? Do some of them have faith to believe? Therefore, don’t determine doctrine by whether someone is healed or not. The first and only standard for truth is God’s word not man’s experience.

          • Drew D

            George,

            Are you saying that those who are in the Church of God are obeying God’s commandments 100% as we should (theoretically since practically this is impossible)? You say those who in the COG can confess and receive forgiveness because we have zero deception. This implies a single unified set of doctrines that all those in the body of Christ must adhear to with no exception. As you say, those who keep Christmas cannot repent because they do not know it is sin. The contra positive would be: Those in the COG know and agree on every aspect of what sin is, since anything less would not allow us to repent and belong to the body of Christ.

            One example is going out to eat on the Sabbath. Some would define this as “Sabbath-breaking”. Following your arguement above, no one who purchases food on the Sabbath without repenting for it cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. Merely going to church on Saturday does not classify as keeping the Sabbath. If we are to condemn those who do not go to church on Saturday as “Sabbath-breakers” unable to repent and enter the Kingdom, we would need an exhaustive list of what it means to break the Sabbath to ensure that no one unknowlingly loses their salvation (A similar arguement would then apply to all of God’s Laws).

            I argue, as I believe Paul does as well in Romans 3, that this is what Grace is. While each should be convinced in their own hearts of their conviction (Romans 8), Grace covers those who are in the body of Christ who sin unintentionally. Those who think going out to eat on the Sabbath is a sin had better not do it. Those who think it is acceptable may do so. Each is doing so unto the Lord.

            Why then, should Grace only be for those who keep the Sabbath? I am not argueing that the Sabbath is done away with or in unimportant. But I am certainly not arguing that those who worship Christ on Sunday are banned from the presence of God. Who am I to judge their hearts? May God judge them as righteous and raise them up if He so chooses.

            In regards to baptism, it is an external sign of a humble and repentant soul. Certainly the sacrament is important and should be performed. It is not to perfection that we baptised, but to Christ who is perfect. It is a sign of our heart, not our salvation. The Holy Spirit, however, is a sign of our salvation. The question is not then about the sacrament of baptism, but of the laying on of hands.

          • Pastor Ramocan

            Bro Drew
            I find that when it comes to discussing the Sabbath those who do not regard the Sabbath as binding on Christians shift the rules.

            So let’s forget about the Sabbath for a moment and allow me ask you a direct question. Do you believe that a person who lives a lifestyle of adultery or a lifestyle of breaking any of the other nine commandments is living in sin?

            Do not respond by saying we must not judge. That would be evading the question. I am asking about the principle of living a lifestyle of breaking God’s commandments.
            The issue here is not simply about the Sabbath, it is about obedience to God. We have been highlighting the Sabbath because this is the only one of the 10 Commandments people believe it’s ok to live a lifestyle of breaking and not sinning.
            For me the Sabbath is no more important than the other nine commandments. I believe that if one is a perfect Sabbath keeper yet live a lifestyle of breaking any of the other nine of God’s commandments, that person is living in sin. Do you believe this?

            Your direct answer to my question will help to better understand your arguments concerning the Sabbath.

          • Drew D

            This issue is deeper than the simple act of keeping a particular law. The Pharisees were very good and meticulous at keeping the letter of the Law. However, they completely missed the entire underlying purpose of the Law. Paul points out, as has been mentioned in this thread, that the Law teaches what sin is. It does not do so simply by giving commands we are to blindly follow. There is a purpose and a principal spiritual application each individual law gives.

            Paul says we are not under the Law, but under grace (Romans 8). He continues by saying this does not give us a license to sin. In my opinion, sin is the violation spiritual nature of the Law. For example, the commandment against adultery is not in place to stop us from committing adultery, but to teach us to love our spouse. The concept of adultery was applied to the Israelites as they worshiped (committed adultery with) other gods. The sin was that they were not loving the true God.

            Jesus expands on this in his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. One famous example is that of murder. The sin is not the act of ending the life of a fellow human being (for their were provisions for doing so) but against our evil motives and specifically, hate of our brother. If we keep the Law but miss the purpose and do not understand the spiritual implications (as the Pharisees did) we are in worse shape than if we did not attempt to keep the Law. This is the very thing that Paul was writing against in Romans. The Jewish Christians were condemning the Gentile Christians for not keeping the legality or letter (if I may use those terms) of the Law. One example of Paul’s rebuttal was, you who say do not steal, do you yourself steal (ch 2)?

            The purpose of the Law is to put our hearts towards God and towards our brothers and sisters. Briefly, the purpose then of the Sabbath is to point towards a humility towards God and a hope for His eternal rest (Heb 4). It is not in my opinion (and in your based upon my understanding of your comments) a “test” command to weed out those who are not true believers.

            Do answer your questions directly, yes those who break the commandment of adultery are under sin. Not because they committing the physical act per say, but because of their heart and their intensions. Those who keep Sunday, do so to the Lord and can gleam the same spiritual understanding as do those who keep Saturday. The Hebrew for Sabbath means “rest”. It is not so much a matter of the day of the week, but the purpose, what it represents, and what we can gain from it.

            While I think it would be important to talk about the process in which the day of worship changed from Saturday to Sunday, that is off the topic for this post. I believe you can understand my stance on baptism based upon the information I have presented.

          • Dear Bro. Drew,

            Thank you for your comment. This is obviously a topic that you have thought a lot about. With your permission, I would like to point out a potentially fatal flaw in your reasoning. The crux of your argument appears to be:

            a) The law exists for a higher purpose than simply telling us what not to do.
            b) We must come to understand the spiritual intent of the law because, in your opinion, sin is the violation of the spiritual nature of the law.
            c) Once we understand the intent, we can align our hearts with that purpose and in so doing, please God.

            You give a couple of examples of this (i.e., adultery, and murder), stating that it is not the act that is the sin, but the breaking of the intent of the law. You open your comment with the statement that the Pharisees were very good and meticulous at keeping the letter of the law; you then state later that if we keep the Law but miss the purpose and spiritual implications, as the Pharisees did, we are in worse shape than if we did not attempt to keep the law. You then conclude that the purpose of the Sabbath is to point towards humility toward God and a hope for His eternal rest. You then state that those who keep Sunday do so to the Lord and can gleam the same spiritual understanding as those who keep Saturday.

            The Flaw in Your Reasoning

            In a nutshell, you reason that A leads to B and that if one has B, one no longer needs A. This, as you state several times in your post, is your opinion. It does not appear to be God’s. When speaking to the Pharisees about the meticulous nature with which they kept the Law, Christ said,

            Matt. 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

            Luke 11:42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

            Yes, Christ came and showed us the higher, spiritual intent of the Law (the love of God), but in no way did He discard the basic application of the law. He defines sin as the transgression of the law.

            Christ’s reasoning is A lead to B, once you have B, make sure you keep A as your foundation. In fact, the Hebrews were upbraided for needing to go back to the foundational principles of what they had been taught:

            Heb. 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
            Heb. 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
            Heb. 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

            The spiritual intent of the law, fulfills the law, it does not negate it.

            The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom

            It is not, as you said in your post, a matter of “blindly following” commands. It is a matter of realizing that obedience leads to understanding. This is why David said:

            Psa. 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

            It is the realization that understanding doesn’t come all at once that causes me to take exception with your statement, “if we keep the Law but miss the purpose and spiritual implications, as the Pharisees did, we are in worse shape than if we did not attempt to keep the law.” This simply isn’t true. None of us understand the purpose and spiritual implications of the law when we first come to observe it. This doesn’t mean we should discard it. Our righteousness must exceed that of the Scribes and the Pharisees. It exceeds their righteousness because we go on to a greater understanding, not because we discard the law and “leave it undone”.

            We must do His commandments in order to gain understanding. In your reasoning, there is only the sin of omission not the sin of commission. However, it is not just a matter of omitting to love God. The scripture makes it clear that sins of commission will be punished while the fulfillment of the intent of the law will be rewarded:

            Rom. 2:9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
            Rom. 2:10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

            God is never unclear about what sin is and how it will be punished:

            Ezek. 20:21 Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness.

            You say that the purpose of the Sabbath is simply to teach humility and therefore Sunday-keepers needn’t worry about keeping the Sabbath. However, this calls into question, why God would create the sun when, as I said in my original post, God created the sun and moon to enable man to know the appointed times to worship God. You will see this in Gen 1:14, where God says:

            14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years:
            The word “seasons” in this verse is the Hebrew word “moad”. Here is the definition from Strong’s:
            4150. dEowøm mow{ed, mo-ade´; or dEoOm moled, mo-ade´; or (feminine) h∂dDowøm moweadah(2 Chronicles 8:13), mo-aw-daw´; from 3259; properly, an appointment, i.e. a fixed time or season; specifically, a festival; conventionally a year; by implication, an assembly (as convened for a definite purpose); technically the congregation; by extension, the place of meeting; also a signal (as appointed beforehand):—appointed (sign, time), (place of, solemn) assembly, congregation, (set, solemn) feast, (appointed, due) season, solemn(-ity), synogogue, (set) time (appointed).
            God has set times for us to worship Him. The weekly and annual Sabbaths are part of a grand system of worship (the understanding of which, God only reveals to us after we obey Him). Obedience leads to understanding. I would caution anyone against teaching that the observance of God’s holy Sabbaths are unnecessary.

            A Final Thought

            I’d like to leave you with a final thought.

            What if you’re wrong?

            Let’s say we are wrong. If we recommend that someone be re-baptized and it turns out you are right and it was unnecessary, what’s the worst that would happen? They didn’t have to pay for the baptism, and it wasn’t painful. However, if you tell someone not to be re-baptized and it turns out that it was necessary, what are the consequences?

            Given that your position is not clear, and we are dealing with such a profound life issue, why not err on the side of caution?

            Conclusion

            This has been an interesting discussion and I think there is enough information here for all of us to think more deeply about whether or not one needs to be re-baptized when coming into the Church of God.

            Thank you Bro. Drew and everyone else who posted comments. Thank you to everyone who has been following this thread. Let’s continue to search the scriptures and demonstrate that even though we may disagree, we don’t have to be disagreeable. We are all on a journey and we realize that understanding comes over time. We’re happy to be challenged and encouraged to search God’s word. Let’s make the word of God paramount and, as iron sharpens iron, let’s help each other to gain a greater grasp of the scriptures.

          • Wswordofgodspeaks7

            Acts 15 (New King James Version)

            Acts 15

            Conflict over Circumcision

            1 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.
            3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. 4 And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. 5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”
            The Jerusalem Council

            6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ[a] we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”
            12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. 13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:
            16 ‘ After this I will return
            And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
            I will rebuild its ruins,
            And I will set it up;
            17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD,
            Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,
            Says the LORD who does all these things.’[b]

            18 “Known to God from eternity are all His works.[c] 19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality,[d]from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”
            The Jerusalem Decree

            22 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas,[e] and Silas, leading men among the brethren.
            23 They wrote this, letter by them:
            The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,

            To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:

            Greetings.

            24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”[f]—to whom we gave no such commandment— 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.[g] If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.

            Farewell.

          • Pastor Ramocan

            REGARDING ACTS 15 PLEASE REFER TO THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE ON THE SUBJECT.PUBLISHED BY THE UCG
            The Jerusalem Conference of Acts 15: What Was Decided?

            Some people believe that the early Church’s decision in Acts 15 freed Christians from the need to obey the laws revealed in the Old Testament. But is this the case? To understand what was really decided there, we need to look at and understand the historical, cultural and scriptural background.

            From the beginning of gentile conversions, “certain men . . . from Judea” insisted that “unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1). Notice that they viewed circumcision as a matter of salvation. It was a huge issue to them!

            So Paul took the matter before Church leadership to be officially resolved (verse 2). “But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses'” (verse 5). By the “law of Moses” they meant the imperatives of the Sinai Covenant, which would have included perhaps some of its rituals and ceremonies—and definitely circumcision.

            At the Church conference in Jerusalem, both Peter and Paul addressed the assembled elders. The matter of circumcision, Peter noted, had already been settled by God Himself (verses 7-9). Peter’s testimony gave proof that God gave the Holy Spirit to gentiles who were not circumcised (Acts 10:44-48). As a result, they could only conclude that God does not require the circumcision of male gentile converts.

            Paul and Barnabas then spoke, describing how God had performed miracles through them in calling gentiles into the Church (verse 12).

            Four restrictions on new gentile converts

            James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ, then issued a concluding statement: “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood” (verses 19-20, NIV).

            Some people seize on these words to argue that nothing more was required of early Christians—that they (and we) need not keep other laws found in the Old Testament.

            But does this view really make sense? James said nothing about murder, stealing, lying, taking God’s name in vain or a host of other sins. By this rationale, should we conclude that Christians are now free to do these evil things? Of course not! So why, then, did James list only these four restrictions—”to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood”?

            The link connecting each of these requirements is idolatry. Specifically, each was directly associated with the pagan forms of worship common in the areas from which God was calling gentiles into the Church. Each also violated specific biblical commands (Exodus 20:2-6; Leviticus 20:10-20; Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 7:26-27).

            It is evident, however, that the apostles also had another reason for singling out these links to idolatry. They wanted to make sure that new non-Jewish converts would have immediate access to learning the teachings of God’s Word—the Holy Scriptures (Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:15).

            Notice the reason James expressed for listing those particular prohibitions: “For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath” (Acts 15:21, NIV). The purpose for this somewhat puzzling concluding statement now becomes clear: The apostles wanted to ensure that every new gentile convert would be able to avail himself of that instruction as the words of Moses were “read . . . every Sabbath.”

            Access to the Scriptures

            In that day no one had their own copies of the Bible. Scrolls were handwritten and enormously expensive. Only the very wealthy could afford any kind of personal library. The only places where one could hear the Bible regularly read was at the Jerusalem temple or in the Jewish synagogues that existed in larger cities of the Roman Empire.

            By renouncing any associations with idolatry and choosing to worship only the true God of the Scriptures, these new gentile converts could attend the Jewish synagogue. There they would be able to learn the basic teachings of the Holy Scriptures every Sabbath. In areas where Christian congregations were not yet established, the synagogue was the only organized training center where the Scriptures could be learned.

            Paul plainly confirms the importance of new converts being instructed from the Scriptures. In his letter to Timothy—a young minister who helped him serve these gentile converts—Paul makes the point that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable . . . for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

            He even reminded the gentile converts in Rome that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). At that time, the only “Scripture” and “word of God” they knew was what we today call the Old Testament. The New Testament didn’t yet exist.

            Paul clearly expected his gentile converts to put effort into both hearing and learning the inspired Word of God. Yet when the Church first began accepting gentile converts, it did not yet have the capacity to instruct non-Jewish believers in the Scriptures in every city—especially in those cities having no Christian congregations.

            But the Jews welcomed uncircumcised gentiles into the synagogue to learn God’s truth—providing they made a commitment to serve only the true and living God of the Bible.

            The New Testament shows that the earliest gentile converts quickly became familiar with those Scriptures. Because the Scriptures used by the Jews and Christians were exactly the same, the apostles were comfortable having new gentile believers join the Jews and Jewish Christians who attended synagogue services each Sabbath.

            The Bible itself records that many gentiles first heard Paul’s preaching in the synagogue where they were attending alongside the Jews (Acts 17:1-4, 10-12, 16-17). Both the synagogue and the Holy Scriptures were central to Paul’s work in converting Jews and gentiles alike.

            Both Paul and his converts regarded the Holy Scriptures—as taught by the Jews in the synagogues—as the foundation of their beliefs. Thus he did not always have to explain every detail of the way of life these new converts were to learn. When he was in a city for only a short time, Paul could concentrate his efforts on explaining the role and mission of Jesus Christ and then move on to another city.

            He knew that gentile converts could continue receiving basic instruction in the Scriptures and God’s way of life by attending the regular synagogue services. And the fact that, in his letters to gentile congregations, he quoted extensively from the same Scriptures used by the Jews provides clear evidence that all gentile converts had access to that instruction regardless of where they lived.

  • Sis. Teena

    If I may add further enlightenment on this question: Is re-baptism necessary?

    Eph. 4:4-6 is the NT profession of faith. It speaks of one hope, one baptism. Baptism and hope go hand in hand. What you believe when you are baptized is your hope. Therefore, if your hope has been enlightened to the gospel of the Kingdom, the resurrection (inheriting eternal life) and being born into the family of God, this is a far different hope than heaven and the immortality of the soul.

    Notice in Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

    There is precedence on re-baptism: In Acts 19:1-7 Paul found a group of disciples in Ephesus who had been baptized by John the Baptist. Paul acknowledged they were disciples, but found the need to re-baptize them in Christ.

    Acts 19:3 And he (Paul) said unto them, Unto what then were you baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
    v. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
    v. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

    This is a clear example that baptism goes hand in hand with your hope. The disciples of John the Baptist did not understand the fullness of hope in Christ Jesus. Just like Apollos who had received only the baptism of John (Acts 18:24-26). Aquila and Priscilla had to teach him “the way of God more perfectly” or completely. Acts 19:8 goes on to show Paul speaking boldy for three months on the Kingdom of God to further enlighten those disciples in Ephesus of this hope.

    Some may argue Acts 19 is regarding baptism in the name of Christ. John did not baptized people in his name, rather God’s name. John 1:33 He that sent me to baptize with water refers to YVHV. It continues with John 3:13-15 Jesus was baptized of John (but not in John’s name). Christ allowed this to be so in order to fulfill all righteousness.

    If our Lord Jesus Christ would allow himself to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness, surely we can follow His example to be re-baptized into a new hope? Clearly, our hope at baptism determines our faith. If our hope is enlightened, there is a need for re-baptism to fulfill all righteousness. In the end, it is a personal choice to humble your will to fulfill all righteousness.

    One last thought, it is possible to receive another Jesus, another spirit, another gospel: II Cor. 11:4 For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you have received another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him.

    Ultimately, we must be moved to act according to our convictions.

    Grace & peace,

    Sis. Teena

  • Luana

    Adrian,

    In regards to the doctrine of baptisms, here is an interesting video teaching by Michael Rood on site in Isreal.

    • Hi Luana,

      I’m happy to look at the video, however, there is no link. Also, let’s be careful to base our discussion on the word of God.