By John Larkins
The Lenten season, during which Jesus suffers the taunting of Satan in the desert, is a constant reminder of our sinfulness and the great shining promise that Jesus was preparing to rescue us. The long-promised Redeemer was truly among us on earth. Truly, Jesus was here to save our souls from eternal damnation due to Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God.
But how was that salvation to be dispensed to each of us?
When the time came for Jesus to reveal Himself as the Son of God, He also clearly identified Himself as the Son of Man. Many of today’s Christians seem to miss the point that Jesus pointed out that “this” was the beginning of the Kingdom of God. “This” is Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River and His subsequent preaching about how “new wine cannot be put in an old wineskin.” Jesus began gathering men to be His personal students, followers, converts from the now waning Mosaic God created Jewish worship system to a new and everlasting covenant.
Jesus announced his new Church in Matthew 16: 13 – 16. He started this key discussion with His disciples by asking them, “Whom do men say that I am?” After some talk about general responses, Jesus asked more directly: “But who say ye that I am?” Simon Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said, “Blessed art thou, Simon, for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee but my Father which art in heaven. And I say also unto thee, that thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
This revolutionary revelation is followed by several of the important delegations of authority given to Peter and his fellow bishops for the tremendous sacred and eternal responsibility given His Church to accomplish after Jesus returned to Heaven. Included in this passage is the fact that this new Church was never going to be needing Martin Luther to establish his own church-like organization to correct non-existent flaws 1,500 years later in 1520.
In Mark 16, 15-16, Jesus addressed the 11 apostles as He was preparing to rise to heaven: “Go ye into the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” It is worth mentioning that Jesus taught His apostles every day, but the written gospels were still in the memories of these men who would later write them. These apostles had been verbally counseled in all that Christ held to be necessary at the time. His Church was also given the authority to clarify and modify teachings because He told them, “Whatever you say on Earth, is heard in Heaven.”
In the Acts of the Apostles, we see several instances where existing Mosaic teachings were modified for Jesus’ new Church, sometimes by heavenly dreams or visions. Baptism by water is a clear change, as is the elimination of most of the dietary laws. Baptism, in its proper form, is generally accepted as exercised by all believers. The power to call forth the Holy Spirit in blessing the host and blood at the Communion in Holy Mass is perhaps the most powerful source of salvation. The crowning glory of Jesus, the forgiveness of sins, is easily the key to human peace and happiness.
Check that Bible again and look at Matthew 28:18-20. These powers were given to Jesus’ Apostles and their legitimate successors, alone. Are all of us benefitting from Christ’s sacrifice and dispensation of soul saving power?
For the past 15 years, John Larkins has evangelized on the street, door-to-door, in tent revivals and in church situations. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.