Born Again?

I want to challenge a commonly held view concerning baptism and salvation. I will use the Word of God and a few varying commentaries. Go to the Word and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the necessity of baptism, and what its purpose is. Baptism is not a symbol, it is a miracle by which we enter into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ by faith.

“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3:3).

How is a man “born again?”

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

We receive new birth from God and through the resurrection of Christ. Practically speaking, how do we enter into His death and resurrection?

“Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).

Yes, baptism saves you. This is not a hard saying unless you hold fast to the tradition that baptism has nothing to do with salvation. If you understand that you are saved by Jesus Christ alone, and understand that there is always an action required when entering into a covenant (in this case, the New Covenant) then baptism makes perfect sense. It is not a work but a surrender. Jesus ratified the New Covenant with His own blood. You enter the New Covenant through His shed blood by entering into His death and resurrection when you are baptized. Jesus said you must enter through the narrow gate. Jesus is the gate. To enter through Jesus, we must enter into His death, and this, according to the apostle Peter, is accomplished through baptism.

“It [baptism] brings salvation through the resurrection of Jesus Christ’). Understood in this manner, baptism is clearly not the agent but the instrument of salvation (for example, NEB ‘water of baptism through which you are now brought to safety’), and the implicit agent of salvation is God (compare 1:3–5).”

Daniel C. Arichea and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on the First Letter from Peter, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1980), 121.

What does baptism do? Why does it save us?

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3–4).

“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:11–12).

How are my sins removed by Christ?

“He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

How am I clothed in the righteousness of Christ?

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).

Did Jesus say we needed baptism to be saved?

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

“‘He who believes and is baptized’: the single definite article governing both participles joins the two verbs together in describing the man who will be saved; the clause could be translated, ‘the baptized believer.’”

Robert G. Bratcher and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on the Gospel of Mark, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1993), 511.

Paul thought baptism into Jesus Christ was important; important enough to baptize twelve men again. Paul uses baptism synonymously with belief; “when you believed,” “then into what were you baptized?”

“And he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ And Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying” (Acts 19:2–6).

“The believers are willing, and so they permit themselves to be baptized. It is doubtful this is referred to as a rebaptism, since from the point of view of Luke these people were never really baptized in the Christian sense up to this time.”

Barclay Moon Newman and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on the Acts of the Apostles, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1972), 363.

This story indicates that the apostles saw belief, repentance, baptism, and the reception of the Holy Spirit as the entire process for becoming a Christian; all are necessary.

“Does Paul’s first question about receiving the Holy Spirit indicate that he sees none of the Spirit’s fruit or giftings in their lives? The combination of questions certainly tells us that Paul assumes that saving faith, the reception of the Spirit and Christian baptism converge at conversion.”

William J. Larkin Jr., Acts, vol. 5, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), Ac 18:23.

How did Paul remedy their lack of salvation?

“Paul’s corrective is to preach the gospel to the twelve by pointing out the preparatory and therefore partial nature of the baptism of repentance and of John’s message pointing to the Messiah who was to come. Though the Gospels never explicitly state that John called for faith in Christ, the status and role he gave to Jesus certainly imply it (Lk 3:16–17; Jn 1:27; 3:23–30). Paul makes the point that Jesus is this ‘coming one.’ To receive the gospel qualifies one to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, and this is what the twelve do (Acts 2:38–39). This is no ‘rebaptism,’ for after the triumph of Easter and the provision of full salvation blessings at Pentecost, a preparatory baptism of repentance is more than incomplete—it is obsolete (Lk 16:16; Eph 4:5).”

William J. Larkin Jr., Acts, vol. 5, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), Ac 18:23.

In the Great Commission does Jesus say for us to go into the nations and lead people to Him through prayer? He says make them disciples; this is accomplished by preaching the gospel; and when they respond in belief to baptize them. Through this baptism, they will receive remission of their sins, will enter into the death and resurrection of Christ and rise out of the water a new creation. They will also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as promised by Christ.

What is the response of one who comes to believe in Christ? What must they do to enter the narrow gate?”

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).

“But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12).

We know not what Philip told the eunuch, but we know his response,

“See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36).

“‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized” (Acts 9:17–18).

From Paul’s own testimony we see exactly what response is expected and correct according to the Word,

“And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name’” (Acts 22:14–16).

There are too many verses describing the importance and immediacy of baptism as the only response to list here. There is not one single case in which someone came to salvation by praying a prayer asking Jesus to enter their heart. There is only baptism into Christ Jesus while calling on His name as your Lord. Repent, be baptized for the remission of your sins, and you enter the long and difficult road to salvation receiving the Holy Spirit of Christ to empower you for the journey. As Jesus said,

“the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).

The truth does not need to be harmonized, nor does it require you to ignore the rest of Scripture. Jesus said the Scriptures cannot be broken; meaning the Word does not contradict or nullify itself. Therefore, salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone. We receive it by believing  in our hearts (not an intellectual belief), repenting and turning from sin toward God, being baptized so that our sins are removed through our entering into the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, putting on Christ and becoming clothed in His righteousness. Then we receive the Holy Spirit, promised of God. The Holy Spirit fulfills the prophecy of God found in Jeremiah 31:33,

“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.”

and in Ezekiel 36:26-27,

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

Do not be deceived.

October Update

It has been a long while since I last gave an update. May was the last checkin. The Lord has done and is doing amazing things, but I will start with our life update. We returned to Cape Town by direction of the Lord, and for good reasons as I will share later. Upon our arrival we stayed at Imhoff Camping Park again, then moved in with our friend Luella in the town of Fish Hoek. We started up a house church with her and a few other friends for equipping and building up. We spent the rest of the time looking for a place to rent around the same area. The house church has been amazing and encouraging and the Lord has spoken many amazing things. We found a place not far from Lu’s and have moved in. It is a three bedroom with a small garden and space to host. The Lord is working mightily. In the past three months so many things have happened and so many people have entered into the kingdom of God. I went on a trip to Lesotho with three guys from the house church and the entire way there there were hearings and salvations and miracles. In Ladybrand not he border of Lesotho two Chinese families came to the Lord and were baptized. The entire border post was opened to us and there were salvations and miracles there. In Lesotho a factory of 1600 workers with many healings and salvations and miracles. The Lord established a churching the home of Cindy (one of th Chinese ladies). Since then she has prayed for more than a hundred people not he streets of her town and see 18 headings by Christ through her hand. In Fish Hoek, Mitchell’s Plain, Ocean View, Sun Valley and other areas in Cape Town we and a few friends have baptized more than a hundred people and seen drug addicts, alcoholics, and others with various forms of bondage set free not he side of the road. We prayed for a man high on drugs who had schizophrenia and baptized him of the side of the road and lay hands on him to receive the Holy Spirit and he is free. When we found him he could not speak or open his eyes, when Jesus finished he was walking down the street with us talking. Next month we are going to a meeting where 80 women want to hear about salvation because a brand new, baby  Christian shared her testimony with everyone she knows and they all want Jesus now. Long story short, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, and His people; children of God clothed int he righteousness of Christ and filled with His Holy Spirit are the same as the early church in the book of Acts. Every single day people are baptized, receive the Holy Spirit and freedom. Just Sunday we were worshipping in our house with friends and a man came to fellowship with us. The Holy Spirit came on him and a demon in him cried out, “You are so powerful! So powerful! So powerful!” and the Spirit of the Lord said through him, “Pray!” He was set free that hour, was baptized and received the Holy Spirit. I just came back from speaking on CCFM radio here in Cape Town with three other friends. We share Christ and prayed for people calling in. Yesterday we baptized to waitress over lunch. Jesus is alive, He is real, He is all powerful, and He brings true freedom. We have been through hospitals praying for the sick and baptizing them in their hospital beds. Jesus is unstoppable.

What is next?
The Lord has raised and elite team of men and women walking in the freedom and identity of Jesus Christ. Thy know His part and they know His purposes. We are establishing churches here in Cape Town according to the blueprint of Jesus Christ. Then we are going to other nations to lay foundation sin believers there. If you want to partner with this then pray. Hear what the Holy Spirit is saying and do it. There are many here who have outright quit their jobs and are walking in kingdom favor and operating in the freedom of Christ with the inheritance of the children of God. You are also welcome to come and walk with us in freedom.

How are we?
All are well. Those of you who knew CJ and Becky would no longer recognize them. Becky shared in church the other day and prayed of the ,and deliverance. CJ heals the sick on a regular basis and gives words of knowledge and speaks the gospel in boldness. We are in Christ and we are in His joy and peace.

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Update, May 2017

Cape Town

“Safe Haven”
We finally arrived in Cape Town after flying from Dusseldorf to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Jedda, Jedda to Addis Ababa, Addis Ababa to Johannesburg, and from Johannesburg to Cape Town. This is the longest route we have taken to get to South Africa. We left the airport and drive down to Fish Hoek to the missions house hosted by Yebo Life known as Safe haven. The photo above is the view we enjoyed from the front of the house. We had a wonderful time of ministry in Cape Town. We were introduced to Edwin and his wife Angie who run Restoring Hands in Lavender Hill. You can read about them at https://www.yebo-life.com/blog/2017/1/10/our-relationship-with-restoring-hands. While we were with Rich and Fanus we baptized 3 people in two days and had some pretty intense prophecy laid on us. These prophecy are shaping our next steps, and we ask for prayer concerning the decisions we are about to make. Of note, I also got to hang out with and work out with my good friend Fanus. The man has become a proper beast. We squatted 120kg (265 lbs) for reps and I was able to squeeze out 20 with a lot of heaving and huffing/puffing. Fanus knocked out 21 reps without breathing heavy. I was impressed and motivated to keep pressing forward. Pictured below is our new friend and brother-in-christ Richard. We had great times running around with him and Fanus evangelizing, baptizing, and healing. We want to give a special thanks to Tony and Julie Barwick for opening Safe Haven to us.

 

Travel North
Our trip North (to Pretoria) was a bit of an adventure. As we traveled the alternator on our truck quit working. Because the alternator was not working properly (voltage regulator) the batteries were being overcharged. The auxiliary battery in the back overheated and begun fuming gases. We stopped and I pulled it out and taped off the connectors. The other two batteries failed as well and we had to park on hills overtime we stopped so we could roll start the car. The voltage regulator for the 24v started also failed. We were able to make the trip. On the way the highway was blocked by protestors in a town called Richmond. We stopped for lunch and the awesome power of our Lord Jesus Christ prevailed. As I sat the Spirit of the Lord drove me to the crowd. They were burning tires and converging on anyone trying to press through. The peace and boldness of the Lord took hold of me and I walked to the middle to their leader, John. I lay my hands on him and began to pray and the people fell silent. I prayed thanking the Lord that He had heard their cries, and that His mercies would rain down upon them and ease their suffering. I prayed commanded every curse be broken that has fallen among the people, and that they would be delivered from the hands of their oppressors. After the prayer I walked to a small group of men the Lord had led me to. One man had a paralyzed hand and his pinky and ring finger were clinched. I commanded them to be loosed in Jesus name and Jesus poured His blood out on the mans hand it it was instantly healed. He began moving it and saying, “unbelievable, unbelievable” over and over. I told them about the gospel of Jesus Christ and about their need to enter into His resurrection through baptism, repenting and calling on the name of the Lord. A woman came asking for prayer for night terrors and rheumatic fever. She had pain in her arms. I saw she was wearing a black band on her wrist. I took it from her and crushed it in my hand and commanded every power back to the pit and every curse broken in her life. I grabbed her hands and prayed in Jesus name and He reached out His healing hand and removed the disease. “Repent and be baptized,” I said. I prayed for their local pastor and left them with him. The Lord opened a way through a first road for us to leave, and we drove on. Some children were waiting at a fa gate and opened it for us. We are the only car to get through in the last 4 hours. Jesus Christ is all powerful and always ready to show mercy.

Pretoria

We got to baptize our friend Amon at the judea Harvest farm Three Trees. Dr. Louis Blooms wife, Thea, had dreamed one year before that Amon would be baptized in that bathroom and had told him such. I love how the Lord gives us little winks like that.

Decisions

We are faced with a decision and are before the Lord asking for His direction. Upon our arrival in Pretoria the truck completely quit and is now in the shop. I began to see a vision in my mind, not of attacks from Satan, but of resistance by the Holy Spirit. The vision is of a lawn mower and it does not have enough power for the amount of grass being cut. As it drives forward into the grass it begins to stall and it must be pulled back before it can go forward. The Lord has spoken clearly to us that we need to stop, not ministry, but to physically stop an make a base. It is a reversal of our current way; from traveling and planning stops to stopping and planning travel. The part that is difficult is a clear message to pull back. We received and intense level of prophecy over us when in Cape Town and a portion of it had to do with increased stability. We began to ask the Lord if He is wanting us to pull back for a season. We were also praying about where the Lord wants us to stop. That evening we went to a braai with some new friends and the wife said, i see the Lord saying stability. The husband began to speak of charity in the home and an increased focus on Becky and CJ. He said go to a “safe haven.” You need to return to your “safe haven.” I admit this expression is common, but for us, in this time it actually has a very specific meaning. As you can see above, the house we stayed in in Cape Town is named “Safe Haven.” I wanted confirmation of this so I went and asked a lady here named CB to pray for us. I have always felt communion in the Spirit with her each time we have stayed here. As I began to ask her and to present our options, she said, “I am listening to you while simultaneously listening to the Spirit. I heard Cape Town.” Not yet convinced, and wanting further confirmation, Celine and I were praying for the bank manager of ABSA near Menlyn. I said we were struggling a bit and she said, “just pull back and things will fall in place.” After we prayed I thought I should ask her to pray for us and ask the Lord where He wants us to settle. She said, “Cape Town, that is what I hear.” Additionally, in a fire hose of prophecy with a group in Cape Town the lord said we will have many homes all over the world, people would open their homes to us and hat we would feel at home there, but that it is like the Lord is waiting and giving us a special and warm welcoming in Cape Town. At the time I did not know what to make of that. We just want prayer that the Lord will make a way for this and show us how because we were supposed to be going to Zambia to help finish a church there. Should we pull back now or press forward and stop afterward. Financially it does not seem possible because of repair costs. Also I have a retirement review that has come up and need to establish relationship here so that it can be accomplished. The timeline for Celine and CJ’s visas has been pressed forward because certain required documents will expire soon. Just pray that he Lord will shine His light on the path and that there will be peace as these decisions are made.

Help needed with the Liliachi Church Plant

This mission trains and empowers local leaders to plant churches. We connect with the person of peace as described in Luke 10, and equip and encourage them to plant  many house churches in their area of influence. As these house churches grow in number and attendance, we work with Judea Harvest to build a strategic center (local church building) for them to launch new church planters from. The local believers raise a portion of the money required for material, and Judea Harvest subsidizes the rest of the cost and helps the local leaders with construction oversight. This method empowers the local leaders and gives ownership to the congregation.

We worked with Patrick Wamundela of the United Apostolic Faith Church to plant a new church in Liliachi, Western Zambia. Liliachi will become the seat of government for the new province in Western Zambia, and will be home to government officials and their families. Construction of offices has begun as well as a 2000 student boarding school. This church is the only one in the area, and will serve this new community of influence as well as becoming a strategic launch point for evangelists and church planters heading for Angola, and the southern part of Congo. This project is currently $2000 short. Basically, the frame has been constructed, but the roof and walls are lacking. We will be going their to organize the construction efforts. If you would like to sow into a project that directly expands the kingdom of God, and reaches widows and orphans living in extreme poverty, and is in direct contact with unreached peoples then this is a project I recommend.

Prayers, volunteers, and resources are all welcome. Give as prompted by the Spirit.

Project Highlights:

Eases the suffering of the people. Each church develops a youth ministry ad program and grows into a Hope Center that feeds and educates children. A borehole (water well) will be dug and food donated through various church and organizations.

A church building will be constructed moving a congregation from meeting under trees into an enclosed building. This church will be a center for training new church planters who will enter in Angola to the west, and Congo to the north.

This church is the first and only church in a several hundred kilometer radius, and is located in the vicinity of the new seat of power for the province. It will also have access to a 2000 student boarding school.

Donations can be made through our website. Please write Liliachi #561 in comment areas for monetary donations. You may also go the the Judea Harvest website and give directly to them.

To give through Hope and Healing, follow this link:

How Can You Help?

To give through Judea Harvest, follow this link:

Judea Harvest

Our next chapter…

Hello friends,

Visiting family in Germany

As we travel between the United States and Southern Africa, we visit family in a small village known as Ergste. The photo above is the Saint John’s Evangelical church; our church when in Germany. Celine’s mother lives about 200 meters from this church. The first few times we visited Germany, we found the churches to be very traditional, and the attendees elderly. In the last year we have seen God doing a mighty work in the youth.

As many of you know we attended a seminar in Hannover where many came to Christ, were delivered, healed, and baptized. Western societies need Christ as much as third world countries. In fact, it seems more difficult to follow Christ in places where every need is met instantly. There are deeper needs that the world cannot meet, and it is those needs that bring people to the foot of the cross.

Cape Town

We will arrive in Cape Town, South Africa on April 13th. We will be staying at Yebo Life’s Safe Haven mission house overlooking False Bay. Go and read up on this wonderful local ministry at https://www.yebo-life.com/. In Cape Town we will also be meeting with the General Overseer for the United Apostolic Faith Church that covers most of Souther Africa. This meeting is to solidify near-term strategy for current church plants going on in Western Zambia and Angola. We will also be introduced to a medical ministry working in Egypt, Sudan, and Eritrea to consider partnership with them.

Pretoria

We will leave for Pretoria South Africa on April 21st. We will drive our Land Cruiser north through the Karoo and arrive in pretoria around the 24th or 25th. We need to update the registration for our truck and pickup our overland trailer. We will be staying at Judea Harvest’s Three Trees Farm. They have recently completed construction on several Rondovel structures that will be used to host pastors in training and short-term missionaries. Read up on Judea Harvest and their mission at http://judeaharvest.co.za

Upcoming mission

At Three Trees we will begin the planning process for our next trip to Zambia. The primary mission is to begin wall and roof construction for the new church in Liliachi. Liliachi is located far to the West in Zambia, near the Angola border. Its remote location does not keep it from being a strategic point for the kingdom. It has been designated the new seat for regional government of the Western Province. Construction has begun on government buildings and a 2000 student boarding school. Our church plant is the first in the area and the church planter, Patrick Wamundila has begun establishing kingdom relationships with those who will influence the area. God is years ahead of the nations. We will also continue in relationship with Reaching a Generation, and establish new relationships with Touching Africa. It is my prayer that we will be able to follow the template the Holy Spirit gave us on our last trip, starting a movement for Christ in the area that spread into Angola and the southern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This ministry is supported by the generosity of individuals and churches. Contributions can be made through World Outreach Ministries Chris and Celine #561. World Outreach Ministries is a 501(c)(3).

Checks: Make checks payable to World Outreach Ministries (WOM) and list the project name in the reference. Mail to—World Outreach Ministries, PO Box B, Marietta, GA 30061 & indicate the project name on your check.

Bill Pay: You can set this up through your online bank. Make sure to indicate the name of the project you wish to support and add the #561.

Online Gifts: www.worldoutreach.org/donations & follow the prompts. Just search for Brennan #561 in the dropdown menu. You can also set up automatic monthly gifts by selecting the monthly option. Please indicate the project name you wish to support when you are redirected to the payment page.

If you desire to support Celine and me personally, please reference Chris and Celine #561.