devos from the hill


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The Baptism of Jesus

Jesus declares His intention to die in our place.

Lesson 44 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well–pleased.”

– Matthew 3:13–17

Proclaiming that the kingdom of heaven was near, John called the people to live according to the ways of God. When people accepted John’s challenge to live for God, they participated in a practice called baptism, in which they were covered with water. This was done to express purification and commitment to live according to God’s laws. And so it was one day, that Jesus came to John. Knowing who Jesus was, John asked to be baptized by Him. But the time for baptism in the name of Jesus had not yet come, and Jesus was baptized by John. And when Jesus came up from the water, the Spirit of God descended upon Him. And a voice came from Heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

– The HOPE, Chapter 8

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

The practice of baptism1 as observed in this lesson had its roots in the washings that God instructed the Hebrew people to do for the purpose of purification (Leviticus 16:26, Leviticus 28, Leviticus 22:6,Numbers 19:7 and Numbers 19). Jesus, however, did not need to be purified. Perhaps this is why John, who knew Jesus from childhood, tried to prevent Jesus from being baptized and said to Him, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” (Matthew 3:14).

So if purification was unnecessary, what was the purpose of this baptism in the life of Jesus?

Most theologians agree that at least three things were accomplished by this event: identification, anointing and confirmation.2 In regard to identification, many believe that Jesus, the One who came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17), was identifying with John’s call to righteousness – to live according to the ways of God. Some, however, see yet another identification taking place in this event.

As Bible teacher Dr. H. A. Ironside put it, “We are like paupers who have accumulated so many debts that we cannot pay them. These are our sins. These tremendous claims are made against us, and we cannot possibly meet them. But when Jesus came, he took all these mortgages and notes and agreements we could not meet and endorsed them with His own name, thereby saying that He intended to pay them, He would meet them. This is what His baptism signifies, and is why Jesus said to John the Baptist, ‘…it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness’ (Matthew 3:15). He declared His intention to meet the righteous demands of God by undertaking Himself to pay the debts of men.”3 Continue reading


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Whom Does God Consider Righteous?

It’s not about trying to be good, but trusting God.
Lesson 27 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

And He took him (Abram) outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

– Genesis 15:5–6

Now Abraham and Sarah lived in Canaan for a long time, but they remained childless. Again, God spoke to him saying that his descendants would be like the stars of the heavens…too many to count. Abraham believed God, and God counted his faith as righteousness.

– The HOPE, Chapter 5

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

In the previous lesson we saw how Abraham responded in faith to God’s calling and promise. God called Abraham to leave his home and journey to an unknown land, and promised that He would make Abraham the father of a great nation. Today’s lesson looks at Abraham several years after that initial step of faith, and still Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were childless! Again God speaks to Abraham, promising that his descendants would be like the stars–too many to count (Genesis 15:5). Abraham had no evidence that he would have even one child, let alone a multitude of descendants. But Abraham believed God, and God reckoned (or counted) it (his faith) to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). This verse is one of the most important in the Bible, for it sums up the basis by which a person can be right with God, and have a relationship with God.

The word “righteousness”1 has to do with law, morality and justice. In Biblical terms, one who is righteous is without guilt. He is perfect or “right” in relation to the law. However, if you flipped the pages of your Bible to Romans 3:10, you would read that, “There is none righteous, not even one.” Abraham was infected with sin, just as every person since Adam (see Lesson 18). If we were to more closely examine Abraham’s life, we would see clearly that his life fell short of perfection.

Only God is perfect! He alone is holy and righteous! And because God is holy and righteous, He cannot tolerate or overlook sin. Sin violates the character of God and ultimately He must judge it. Simply put, sin drives a wedge between God (who is sinless) and man (who is sinful).

The word “reckon”2 (or “credited” or “counted” as some translations read) could be considered an accounting or a mathematical term. If God were to do an audit of Abraham’s righteousness based on Abraham’s own merit, he would be found lacking. But because he trusted God, Abraham was credited by God with a righteousness that was not his own.

To better understand the concept of being “reckoned righteous” consider the story of a judge who served during the great American depression.3 One night a man was brought into his courtroom. The desperate man had been caught stealing bread to feed his starving family. As the man explained his story, the judge felt sympathy for him, but the law left the judge no option. I’ve got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions. Ten dollars or ten days in jail. Then, moved by compassion, the judge reached in his own pocket and pulled out ten dollars to pay the fine. Continue reading