“How to Approach the Bible” 

A study series by Arthur J Licursi


Part 23 of 24 - Common Erroneous Teachings Taught by Various Christian Groups Today (Continued)

15. The idea that “water baptism” is still important today for “the body of Christ.”

The Apostles, as seen in the gospels and the early Acts period, preached to Israel that they needed to “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Yet Paul, under his gospel, simply says this. Acts 16:31 (AMP) Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ [give yourself up to Him, take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping] and you will be saved, [and this applies both to] you and your household as well.

Paul tells us not only is there One God and faith, but also one baptism” (Eph 4:5). Under Paul’s mystery gospel, which is in accord with 1Cor 12:13, all believers have been baptized or placed into the one “body of Christ” by the work of the Spirit. the moment they receive Christ. 1Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. This baptism is a dry baptism. Water baptism is a strictly Jewish God-ordained rite as a demonstration of repentance and promoted by John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth and the 12 Apostles – of whom Paul was not one. While Paul baptized in his early ministry as He still attempted to draw Israel , he ceased that effort, as he said this. 1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize....

Today, our “one baptism” for the members of “the body of Christ” is by one spiritinto one body (1Cor 12:13). 1) This is a waterless baptism. Today the baptizer is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit places believers into Christ’s body. 2) This then also cannot the same as the so-called “baptism in or with the Holy Spirit,” whereby Jesus was the baptizer of the 120 Jews when the Holy Spirit came UPON them at Pentecost. This “baptism in the Holy Spirit” was only for Israel and only for the time of the offering of the kingdom to Israel during the Apsotle's ministry, which has ended .

Today, the members of "the body of Christ" are “in Christ” by the “one baptism” per Paul's mystery gospel that he received directly from the ascended Lord. This dry baptism is the basis of our being identified with Christ, in His death, burial and resurrection. This makes the cross the basis of our new life “in Christ,” into whom we have been placed.

16. The idea that we must forgive others first in order for God to forgive of our sins.

The contrast is significant when we compare Jesus’ words to Israel concerning forgiveness with Paul’s gospel to the uncircumcision, as Paul received it from the ascended Christ.

Let’s now look at forgiveness of sins under the two paradigms and dispesnations of 1) the “Law” and 2) the “gospel of the grace of God.” Still under “the Law,” Jesus gave the Jews the so-called Lord’s Prayer, which included the conditional requirement that a Jew had to forgive first in order to receive God’s forgiveness.  Matt 6:12 (God) forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  While still under the dispensation of “the Law” (see Matt 5:18), Jesus here presents this conditional requirement for Jews to be forgiven of sins. Any preacher who preaches this conditional requirement for forgiveness of sin today preaches “Law,” not “grace.”

We today, under “the dispensation of the grace of God,” are unconditionally and freely justified.” Roman 3:24 Being (continuing) justified (diction, rendered innocent) FREELY (Gk. doreen, without cause, unconditional) by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: The believer enjoys a continuing grace standing by having been immersed or placed “in Christ.”

Paul here writes, telling the Ephesian members of “the body of Christ” how they are to forgive each other.

Eph 4:32 be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath (already, past tense) forgiven you. Having this as our standing by being “in Christ,” we are then equipped to forgive others in the very same way - freely.” Col. 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave (already, past tense) you, so also do ye.

Then how is it that we can forgive others, and even ourselves? Reminding us of this truth, Paul encourages us to forgive others in the same way that we have been forgiven – and that is freely. So, we now forgive others freely. We must see that God not only forgave us freely, but He also then freely gave us His life and His love to be on the inside of us. It is only by His life and love that we can genuinely love and forgive others. Thus, He has equipped believers to forgive their selves, and others freely – no matter how they may have wronged us. God has already forgiven us freely, before we forgive anyone.

17. The idea that the so-called “Lord's Prayer” is for the Body of Christ

Having noted that Jesus Himself said “I (Jesus) am not sent but (only) unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel .” Matthew 15:24, we must consider that the prayer He gave to those Jews was for them and concerned Israel only. (This fact does not negate the fact that His cross-work was on behalf of all mankind.)

Religious leaders love to have their people recite the so-called Lord's Prayer. It's been the religious thing to do for centuries. The so-called Lord's Prayer is one of the most beautiful, meaningful, and touching prayers in the prophetic Scriptures, but those who recite it today are committing a major error.

The Lord Jesus warned the disciples that they were not to pray this prayer, or any prayer for that matter, repetitiously. Matthew 6:7-8 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. Prayer is not a religious exercise, but rather communication with God; therefore, it should always be spoken from the heart.

Actually, the Disciples Prayer, which would be a better name for this prayer, was given as a model for those who Jesus knew would one day be called upon to endure the Great Tribulation. Since the Body of Christ is “delivered… from the wrath to come” (1Thes 1:10), this prayer does not apply to us under this grace dispensation since we are “not appointed to wrath” (1Thes 5:9). The prayer that should correctly be called the Lord’s Prayer is seen in John 17 – as Jesus prayed to the Father for Israel .

The Disciples' Prayer: We must note that Jesus of Nazareth had come only to and spoke only to and of the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt 15:24). Jesus offered His Jewish disciples a prayer concerning their needs in the light of the destiny of Israel during the Tribulation. What is commonly referred to as “the Lord’s prayer” is actually the prayer the Lord gave to His disciples, knowing Israel was destined to face and have to endure the judgments of the Great Tribulation. This prayer must be seen and considered with this understanding of His purpose, while noting to whom He is speaking – those of  Israel .

“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.” The reference here to “our Father” is to the God and Father of Israel - the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In prophecy, heaven was His throne and earth His footstool. His name was so holy or hallowed that the Jews feared they might inadvertently speak it in vain; consequently they changed it from Yahweh to Adonai – meaning Master, Ruler (Isa. 66:1).

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” The hope of every Israelite was the establishment of the Davidic Kingdom . God's will for the earth is to overthrow the kingdoms of this world and establish the millennial kingdom of His dear Son (II Sam. 7:8-17; Luke 1:68-72; Rev. 11:15; 20:6), as promised to Abraham’s seed, the children of Israel.

Give us this day our daily bread.” In the future Tribulation, God will set a table in the wilderness for His people, as He did in time past. The saints in that day will find it necessary to pray for their daily provision of food, since they will be unable to buy or sell without the Mark of the Beast. Subsequently, God will supernaturally nourish the chosen nation (Rev. 12:14 cf. Rev. 13:13-18).

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” As stated earlier, under the kingdom gospel for Israel , forgiveness was conditional based upon a like-spirit (Matt. 18:21-35 cf. Eph. 4:32). Today, under the grace gospel we are to forgive others, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us” – “freely.” We forgive because He has already forgiven us;

    “And lead us not into temptation (trials), but deliver us from evil (Gk. noun: evil one). For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” The sense here is, “Lord, lead us (the believing ones     of Israel) not into the Great Tribulation, but deliver us from Satan, who brings death and destruction in his wake” (Rev. 6:7-11; 12:12; 13:1-10).