by Al Maxey

Issue #181 ------- March 29, 2005
An impulse as irresistible as in the acorn to
germinate is in the soul of the prophet to speak.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

The Prophecy of Obadiah
The Struggle Began in the Womb
Ending in a Brother's Doom

There was war being waged in the womb! A private, prenatal conflict. A silent struggle among yet to be born siblings. The confined combatants were twin brothers, the sons of Isaac and Rebekah. This woman was quite perplexed as to why "the children struggled together within her" (Gen. 25:22), so she inquired of the Lord regarding the matter. God replied, "Two nations are in your womb; and two peoples shall be separated from your body" (vs. 23). These nations would later become very bitter enemies, as we shall soon see, but their warfare predated the actual birth of their respective progenitors.

When Rebekah's "days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. And afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau's heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them" (vs. 24-26). Even during the birthing process, the struggle continued ... the older emerging with the younger clutching at his heel.

As these boys grew into manhood the struggles would intensify, and, at times, become potentially deadly. Matters were not helped by the fact that "Isaac loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob" (Gen. 25:28). When parents play favorites, especially when there is already such an intense sibling rivalry, the resultant breakdown of the family unit is inevitable. The catalyst for a coming crisis was established when, in a rash moment while experiencing great hunger, Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for some bread and stew (vs. 29-34). Years later, when Isaac, who was very aged and virtually blind, decided the time had come to bestow his blessings upon the boys prior to his death, Rebekah conspired with Jacob to wrest the blessing of the firstborn away from Esau, perhaps thinking to benefit from Esau's previous rash renunciation of his birthright.

To make a long story short, the deception worked and Esau vowed to kill his brother Jacob when the days of grieving for his now dead father had been fulfilled (Gen. 27:41). Learning of the vow, Rebekah sent Jacob away to the home of her brother to live, and there, hopefully, to find a wife from among their own people. To show his spite for his family, from whom he now was estranged, Esau chose to marry outside the family. From these two unions would come the nations of ISRAEL (from Jacob) and EDOM (from Esau). During the long history of the people of Israel there would be almost continual conflict between them and their brother nation Edom.

This enmity and abusive treatment of Israel by Edom continued off and on until the time of King David, who managed to place Edom under subjection to Israel. "In all Edom he put garrisons, and all the Edomites became servants to David. And the Lord helped David wherever he went" (2 Sam. 8:14). During the reign of King Jehoram, however, Edom revolted against the rule of Israel and set up their own king and kingdom once again, which only led to continued acts of bloodshed between these two nations (2 Kings 8:20-22; 2 Chron. 21:8-10). The people of Edom hated the Israelites with a passion, and they took every opportunity throughout their history to inflict as much suffering upon the descendants of Jacob as they could. This continual evil against a brother nation did not go unnoticed by God.

During their later history, the Nabatean Arabs took over the territory of Edom and drove them from their land. They fled to the area south of the Dead Sea. In time they came to be known as the Idumaeans. Around 120 B.C. they were conquered by John Hyrcanus, during the wars of the Maccabees, who forced many of them to be circumcised and to accept the Law of Moses. During the trial of Jesus, just before His execution on the cross, we see our Savior (a descendant of Jacob) standing before King Herod (a descendant of Esau). Perhaps the latter saw this as an opportunity to "settle the score."

The Prophet Obadiah

But, we have raced somewhat ahead of our focus for this particular article, although an overview of the history of the nation of Edom is necessary to understanding the text before us, as we shall see when we examine the prophecy itself of this servant of God. Before studying the words of this man, however (or, more properly, the words of God delivered through this man), we need to take some time to say just a few words about the prophet himself. And they will indeed be few, as we know virtually nothing about Obadiah. There are about a dozen different men with the name Obadiah to be found within the pages of the Old Testament writings, however there is no evidence that any of them are to be identified with this prophet. "Obadiah," after all, was a very common name among the people of Israel.

The name Obadiah means "Servant of Yahweh" -- or, literally, "one who serves or worships Jehovah." Even the book which bears his name gives no clue as to any personal information. It is assumed that he was a native of Judah, although in the Jewish Talmud it is stated he was an Edomite proselyte whom God used to rebuke his own people. Others speculate he may have been among the circle of prophets attached to the Jerusalem temple. However, there is no way to determine if any of this is true or not. All we really know about the man is simply conveyed by the meaning of his name -- he served and worshipped the Lord God, and by the fact that he was a prophet -- he dared to boldly speak forth the word of the Lord. And yet, even if this is all we ever know about this man, it is sufficient to merit our admiration and respect.

In addition to being the shortest book of the Old Covenant canon, the prophecy of Obadiah also "bears the distinction of being the most difficult of all the prophecies to date" (Dr. Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, p. 299). "The date of Obadiah's work has been variously ascribed to periods ranging from 926 to 400 B.C. The book describes a time when Judah was attacked and Edom sided with the enemy, gloating over the defeat of Jehovah's people" (Dan Jones, "The Vision of Obadiah," Firm Foundation, May 27, 1986). Although there is much scholarly debate on the matter, two major theories dominate the speculative field:

  1. 585 B.C. --- This is the view held by many of the modern, so-called "liberal," scholars. It places the prophecy about a year after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians. "In 586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar's forces sacked the city of Jerusalem. The Edomites, whose home lay in the small knot of mountains called Mt. Seir to the immediate southeast of the Dead Sea, joined in the fracas and aided the Chaldeans on their work of carnage and pillaging. At the beginning of the calamity they had been neutral -- perhaps, to see if the God of Israel would fight for them. But as the battle worsened upon the Jews, Edom rushed in to claim a share of the spoils" (H. Daniel Denham, "Obadiah, The Prophet of Humility," Firm Foundation, April 9, 1985).

  2. 845 B.C. --- This is the view held by "a good majority of the evangelical scholars of the 19th and 20th centuries" (Dr. Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, p. 300). It places the prophecy during the days of King Jehoram (848-841 B.C.) when Jerusalem was attacked by the Philistines and Arabians (with probable cooperation from the Edomites -- 2 Chron. 21:8-10, 16-17). This dating of the prophecy of Obadiah seems the most reasonable to me, although Edom certainly had a long history of abuse against its kindred nation. For an excellent, scholarly defense of this position I would refer the reader to (1) A Survey of OT Introduction by Dr. Gleason L. Archer, Jr. (p. 299-303), and (2) A Commentary on the Minor Prophets by Homer Hailey (p. 28-29).

The prophecy of Obadiah is one of only seven Old Testament books that is not quoted in the pages of the New Testament documents. Nevertheless, there are some significant literary relationships with other OT books. It appears, for example, that the prophet Jeremiah was very familiar with the work of Obadiah. If you have the time, read and compare Jeremiah 49:7-22 with Obadiah 1-9. The connection is striking! Thus, there is "strong evidence that the prophet Jeremiah had read and adapted for his own purposes" this passage from the prophecy of Obadiah (Dr. Gleason Archer, p. 301). There are also remarkable similarities between several phrases found in this prophecy and the third chapter of Joel. Note the following:

The Prophecy of Obadiah

The city of Jerusalem had come under attack by pagan peoples, and it was being stormed and looted. Edom, who was in a state of revolt against the people of Israel, stood aloof and watched for a time to see how the battle would go, and then, when it appeared Israel would be defeated, they sided with the invading forces and shared in the spoils. "On the day that you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them" (Obadiah 11). Not only did they "stand aloof" during the day of their brother nation's affliction, but they actually gloated and rejoiced over the misery being inflicted upon them (vs. 12). As if this was not evil enough, they "waited at the crossroads to cut down their fugitives, and handed over their survivors in the day of their trouble" (vs. 14).

The attitudes and actions of Edom were an abomination to God. It brought forth a strong reaction from Him --- "I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated" (Malachi 1:3). God vowed to destroy Edom from the face of the earth, turning "his mountains into a wasteland" and leaving "his inheritance to the desert jackals" (Malachi 1:3). "Edom may say, 'Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.' But this is what the Lord Almighty says: 'They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord'" (Malachi 1:4). Obadiah was one of the earlier prophets God sent to inform the people of Edom of their fate. Because they had dealt treacherously with their brother, they themselves would experience the full outpouring of the wrath of the Father! "As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head" (Obadiah 15). The Principle of Reciprocity.

The prophecy of Obadiah is two-fold: (1) The total destruction of Edom, also referred to in this prophecy as "Esau" and "Teman," and (2) the ultimate vindication and restoration of the people of Israel, also referred to here as "Jacob," "Jerusalem" and "Mount Zion." The use of the names Jacob and Esau in particular, along with phrases such as "your brother," draws our attention to the blood relationship between these two nations. They should have remembered the words of Moses, "Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?" (Acts 7:26). They did not remember, however, and they paid for it with their very lives! God destroyed Edom, but He lifted up Israel. Esau was hated and destroyed; Jacob was loved and restored. "It is the violation of these ties that occasion both Obadiah's denunciation of Edom and the necessity for Judah's restoration" (The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 336). "The purpose of the book is extremely simple, yet, profound and exciting. It predicts both the downfall of Edom, the descendants of Esau, and the exaltation God had in store for Israel, the descendants of Jacob" (Dan Jones, "The Vision of Obadiah," Firm Foundation, May 27, 1986).

The great reformer John Calvin (1509-1564) once remarked that because of the brevity of the prophecy of Obadiah, it did "not suggest as many sermons" as the longer prophetic works. Although that may be true, there are nevertheless a number of eternally significant lessons to be derived from this book, and the disciples of Christ today would do well to heed these divine messages. Let us note several of the great lessons of this ancient prophet of God:

FIRST --- Aggressors and oppressors will reap exactly what they have sown. This is especially true for those who have dealt treacherously with brethren, as the descendants of Esau had done with the descendants of Jacob. "As you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head" (Obadiah 15). The prophet Habakkuk declared the same principle in his warnings to the godless people around him -- "Since you have plundered many nations, all the peoples who remain will plunder you" (Habakkuk 2:8). Those who are brethren, when they inflict misery upon one another, are in danger of judgment! "Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?" (Malachi 2:10). Dr. Jack P. Lewis, one of the great biblical scholars among Churches of Christ, stated the ultimate sin of the people of Edom was "a manifest display of lack of brotherliness!"

I am personally convinced that too many disciples of Christ today have forgotten, or are simply ignoring, this principle of reciprocity. If they truly believed they will one day reap exactly what they have sown, one would think they would NOT be dealing so treacherously with their brothers and sisters in Christ. And yet the tyranny and abuse surround us daily. Either these oppressors are unaware of God's truth ... or, they just don't care. Frankly, in most cases, I suspect it is the latter. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) wrote, "If a man should suffer what he hath done, then there would be strict justice." Ultimately, such men will suffer just what they have done; they will experience "strict justice" from God. "Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who pays you back what you have done to us" (Psalm 137:8). Adoni-bezek learned this principle the hard way, saying, "As I have done, so God has repaid me!" (Judges 1:7).

SECOND --- Standing aloof while others perpetrate violence against the innocent makes one equally culpable before God. A man who watches a woman raped, and does nothing to stop the crime or aid the victim, is just as guilty as the rapist!! Israel was being raped and ravaged by pagan nations ... and the Edomites did nothing to assist their kindred nation. "On the day that you stood aloof ... you too were as one of them!" (Obadiah 11). There are many good servants of our Lord who are today being viciously vilified and victimized by godless servants of Satan. These hounds from hell, masquerading as disciples of Christ, maliciously maul anyone who seeks to stand for Truth as opposed to the tedious tenets of their tradition. And, yes, they will reap exactly what they sow. But, there is another equally godless sort associated with these crimes --- those who stand aloof and silently observe (perhaps even approving).

There were times, historically, when Edom was not the nation actually attacking the people of Israel, but they certainly enjoyed the spectacle of their brother nation's misery. Indeed, they not only stood aloof, providing no assistance, but actually gloated over their affliction. "Do not gloat over your brother in the day of his calamity; do not rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction; do not boastfully mock in the day of distress" (Obadiah 12). "Yes, you -- do not gloat over their misery in the day of their disaster" (Obadiah 13). "He who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished" (Prov. 17:5). Here was a people actually enjoying the misery of those they detested. But, it gets worse; they even came to the aid of the oppressors, shared in the spoils, and killed those brethren trying to escape, or handed them over to the enemy (Obadiah 13-14).

Like those from Edom, and like the "friends" of David, I have personally witnessed so-called "Christians" stand silently by, doing absolutely nothing, while a faithful servant of the Lord was torn limb from limb by religious Rottweilers. The Pulpit Commentary calls this "malignant neutrality" (vol. 14). This is morally reprehensible and spiritually despicable behavior; such cowards who "stand aloof" are no better, and in some ways far worse, than the mutt mauling these saints! The text displays "the perverted and reprehensible values" of the typical enemy of the Lord and His people, "for whom covenant loyalty to a brother meant nothing" (The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 349). The fate of such persons will be fearful!! Both the oppressor, as well as the one who stood aloof, or who gloated over the misery of the oppressed, will be destroyed. Dogs (Rev. 22:15) and cowards (Rev. 21:8) will NOT make it into the New Jerusalem, but will perish outside the gates of this holy city. And we shall shout with the angels, "They deserve it!" (Rev. 16:6).

THIRD --- One of the major underlying faults of the Edomites was pride. "The arrogance of your heart has deceived you" (Obadiah 3). They thought they were impervious to any threat from any source. They perceived themselves as being beyond accountability. They had built cities in the clefts of the rocks, believing that no army could ever defeat them. Thus, in their arrogance they said, "Who will bring me down to the ground?!" (vs. 3). The Lord provided the answer when He said, "Though you seem to soar like an eagle and make your nest among the stars, even from there I will bring you down" (vs. 4). No one is beyond the reach of our God. Thus, "pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Prov. 16:18). The Edomites learned this the hard way. "Obadiah stresses the method, danger, and consequences which pride can present in the example of Edom. That nation no longer exists. The Prophet's words have come to pass; the testimony of the Bible stands sure" (H. Daniel Denham, "Obadiah, the Prophet of Humility," Firm Foundation, April 9, 1985).

One of the famous cities of the Edomites was Petra. Most of us are familiar with this ancient city carved from the face of the cliffs. This was one of the strongholds of this people. They believed no army could get to them. They were dead wrong! God declared He would remove them from the face of the earth. They would "become as if they had never existed" (Obadiah 16). He kept His word. A scholar by the name of Dr. D. Stuart Briscoe wrote, "If you travel today in the region of Edom, you will find nothing but the most stark wilderness and the most isolated emptiness ... it is one of the most formidable, forsaken spots on earth." Brother Homer Hailey observed, "By 100 A.D. the people of Edom had become lost to history" (A Commentary on the Minor Prophets, p. 30). There is no hiding place on earth that will keep the Lord from bringing down those who exalt themselves above Him or who abuse His people (Amos 9:1-4).

FOURTH --- Not only does the prophecy of Obadiah "predict the downfall of Edom, the descendants of Esau," but it also predicts "the exaltation God had in store for Israel, the descendants of Jacob" (Dan Jones, "The Vision of Obadiah," Firm Foundation, May 27, 1986). A message Edom failed to consider, and which many fail to consider today, is -- God always wins! "Those who have been delivered will ascend Mount Zion to rule over the hill country of Esau, and the kingdom will be the Lord's!" (Obadiah 21). These are the words that conclude the brief prophecy of Obadiah, but they say it all. Jacob will be exalted ... Esau will be brought low ... the kingdom will be the Lord's!

"There will be a deliverance on Mount Zion, and it will be holy; the house of Jacob will dispossess those who dispossessed them" (Obadiah 17). Again, we see the biblical principle of reciprocity. Those who sought to dispossess the people of God will in turn be dispossessed themselves! You reap what you sow! The Edomites failed to perceive that truth in time to save them, and, sadly, there are many brethren today facing the same destruction because they too fail to perceive this principle. Those who stand aloof from their brethren, who rejoice at their misery, who participate with the forces of evil in afflicting God's other children, and who, in short, display a lack of brotherliness, will, unless they repent, face the same ultimate annihilation as experienced by Edom, the brother nation of Israel. God will exalt His faithful ones, and He will bring down those who dare to oppress them in any way!


"For the day of the Lord is near ... As you have done, so it will be done to you!" (Obadiah 15). This statement "constitutes the core of Obadiah's prophecy" (The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 353). "The 'day of Jehovah' is a day in which Jehovah manifests Himself in the overthrow of His enemies. It is a day of terror to the enemies of God, but a day of deliverance to the people of God" (Homer Hailey, A Commentary on the Minor Prophets, p. 36). We should all be aware that a day of reckoning is fast approaching. The day of the Lord is near. A failure to recognize this fact will prove costly to many disciples of Christ, not to mention those in the world who have refused to acknowledge their God.

Of special concern in the context of this current study are those who are dealing treacherously with their brethren in Christ. Obadiah informs us that those who actively seek to do harm to their spiritual siblings, as well as those who stand aloof doing nothing to stop the affliction, or who gloat over the misery of their brethren, are equally abhorrent in the sight of the Father. As we look about us in Christendom we cannot help but be appalled by the schisms generated by sectarian skirmishes and factional feuding. All around us brethren are quarrelling with brethren, and usually over the most inconsequential matters. They shun one another, ban one another from their presence, refuse to dialogue with one another, slander and defame one another, and go to great lengths to bring about harm and injury to one another. This is shameful, and, tragically, many will pay for these crimes against their fellow believers with eternal destruction. May the Lord awaken us to the dangers of dealing treacherously with fellow disciples, and may He enlighten us to the joys of harmony within the household of God.

Psalm 133
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
for brothers to dwell together in unity! .... for there
the Lord commanded the blessing -- life forever."

Reflections from Readers

From a Minister in Texas:

Al, I don't know what part of the state of Texas this dear One Cup brother is in who was asked to resign following his sermon, but please send my email address to him and ask him to contact me. I will help in any way I can. Before I entered full-time into the task of preaching, Bro. Terry Bell told me, "There are two kinds of preachers -- those who have been fired and those who will be!" His words are too true to be funny!

From a Minister in Kentucky:

Bro. Al, In regard to your latest Reflections article -- The Forgiveness Formula -- I agree with you for the most part, but would stress some of the points you touched upon even more. In our efforts to get people into the baptistery, and into the "right church," we have given short shrift to repentance, and I agree that we must take care to teach the full meaning of repentance. It is indeed a change of mind that leads to a change of life; a turning of one's life away from sin to a life of righteousness. But I believe it goes even beyond that. Repentance must not only be a turning from sin, it must be a turning to Jesus, making Him Lord of one's life. If it is only a turning from sin, then it is of no value toward the establishing of a relationship with the One who died for us. Ahhh, but we do love our formulas and "five finger exercises," don't we?! I wonder if some will ever learn?!

From a Reader in (Unknown):

Dear Brother in Christ, I am so thankful to have come across your debates on your web site regarding divorce and remarriage -- The Maxey-Broking Debate and The Maxey-Thomas Debate. I am a baptized believer whose family (my father is a Church of Christ preacher) has withdrawn from me because I am remarried. I was married at the age of 19. My husband, who was also 19, divorced me 6 months later because he said he just didn't want to be married. The only reason we married was because his parents thought we should because I was pregnant. I know that I was in sin at the time. I had forsaken my Lord; I was not going to church! Years later I repented of forsaking Him, was baptized, and received forgiveness of my sins. Regardless of the fact that I have turned my life around, my family still refuses to acknowledge me because I am now remarried and have children. I did not divorce him; I did not even want that divorce. He remarried twice after that. I still remained single for years, hoping to repair things with him. But it was not his desire. So why would God punish me for finally remarrying? I know the God I serve is just and fair, but where is the justice and fairness in that? Yet, my family tells me I am going to hell for remarrying.

So I started searching the Scriptures for myself. My sister, who believes I am not eligible for remarriage referred me to my brother's website where I found listings for debates. In that listing I found a link to your website and your two debates on MDR. I have spent all night long reading all of it. There are two things I wanted to tell you: (1) The two preachers you were debating were not acting in a Christian manner toward you, which actually angered me. You had so much patience with them. I actually stopped wanting to read their replies to you because I was not sure I really cared to hear what men like that had to say about the Bible, since their ways were so cruel. How can such men really be teaching God's Word?! Anyway, I found much encouragement in you, brother; you have set an example for me on how to act when people contest my marriage in such a hateful way. (2) You have answered the questions in my search for understanding of divorce and remarriage. I thank you for your explanation of the Greek language and for your teaching on this. I know your opponents called you a "false teacher," but they failed to prove anything! The legalists almost had me to the point of believing them, until I read your debates!! Thank you so much for all you have done to help me. I just wanted to let you know how much I have been made to feel uplifted by you. Your opponents, in trying to prove you wrong, only helped you to prove yourself right in your teachings from the Bible. It is a shame that my family has turned against me, but I can't let that stop me from striving to walk with the Lord. Again, thank you so much!!

From an Elder in Missouri:

Brother, once again you have written well. How often we forget the basic lessons in language learned so long ago. The small little coordinating conjunction spelled "and." Peter did NOT say "be baptized for the remission of sins," rather he said, "repent AND be baptized." Much like the text that says "he that believes AND is baptized shall be saved" -- the "and" makes a world of difference connecting two words of equal value and weight together. My conclusion has always been that repentance must be significant and an important aspect of the journey toward receiving God's forgiveness. Keep up the good work.

From a Minister in Florida:

Al, I just read your article dealing with repentance, and must commend you for once again addressing a real problem in our teaching. I just preached a lesson on John the Baptist, and the main point I made was that he had a following because he was "real." What the people saw was what they got! His message was also "real." It was one of repentance and genuine hope. He called them to change, and as a result of change their hope was on someone greater -- the Son of God. By the way, I couldn't help but notice that a well-known Non-Institutional Church of Christ Internet group has now forbidden their members from talking to you!! Interesting, isn't it, how when an argument can't be answered, a personal attack is made?! Keep on keeping on, brother!

From a One-Cup Minister in Missouri:

Brother Al, I have been emailing and "snail mailing" your Reflections to my fellow African-American preachers of the One-Cup persuasion. These are brethren whose eyes really need to be opened. We are very minuscule in the One-Cup movement. Had I understood the concept of Freedom in Christ early on, I would never have entered this branch of the Church of Christ, due to their ultra-legalism and Pharisaism. But, thank God I've discovered this freedom now!! We love you, brother!!

From a Reader in Texas:

Al, I just finished relishing today's Reflections article. I would respectfully and tentatively offer an additional thought or two. Certainly we understand that true repentance means a heart's allegiance has turned from the world to God. But, I'm not sure that repentance includes "a complete transformation of life." A complete change of heart, yes, attitude, yes, but I believe with all my heart that the gift of the Holy Spirit upon baptism is the catalyst for change in a person's transformation into Christ-likeness. Empirically it doesn't seem as if human will is strong enough to effect change at the moment of repentance, hence the recidivism you decry. You are doing a wonderful work, and I thank our Abba Father for you.

From a Doctor in Alabama:

Al, I want to thank you so much for replying to my recent question to you with this excellent Reflections article -- The Forgiveness Formula. As usual, you have managed to say exactly what needed to be said; and to do so clearly, concisely, and graciously. I have no doubt that God is using you to help enlighten and edify me and your other readers. I am still amazed (though perhaps I shouldn't be) at how often, after having prayed for guidance on a particular subject, I check my email only to discover that you have just written an article on that very subject, with the exact words of wise counsel that I needed to hear. Thank you for being such a blessing to me. You, your family, and your ministry are constantly in my prayers. Thanks again!

From a Minister in Texas:

Bro. Al, When I preached in Las Cruces, New Mexico, I had a class with several graduate students at New Mexico State University. After some time, one of the girls asked what she must do to become a Christian. Among other passages, I read Acts 2:38. But she said she did not see the necessity of baptism. I simply changed the "formula" to this: "He that believes and is baptized shall receive $1000." I then asked her if she thought she would get the thousand if she was not baptized? She grinned, and asked when she could do it. Funny how we get so hung up on theology that we forget simple grammar. The same thing could also be said about repentance and baptism. Excellent articles, brother. As my good friend Leroy Garrett would say, "Soldier on."

A Special Thank You
From the One-Cup Minister in Texas
Who was Terminated for Preaching Truth:

On behalf of my wife and myself, I would like to thank all of you so much for your encouragement and your prayers. It has made this whole situation much easier to deal with, knowing that there are so many loving people out there -- people that we don't even know. The next month or two will be hard for my wife and me, but I feel confident that God will see to it that our needs are met. I want to encourage everyone to continue praying for ALL of God's people, that we may be unified by His grace, His love, and the blood of His Son. Please continue to stand up for Truth, even in the face of great adversity. Please continue to pray for my wife and me, as well. We love you all very much. Your Brother & Sister in Texas.

From a Minister/Elder in New Jersey:

Thank you for another encouraging, insightful and enlightening article. I heartily agree that we (Churches of Christ) have been far too concerned about getting someone to the water without helping them share and feel the sermon that precedes Acts 2:38. My fear, however, is that in focusing on Repentance (which needs equal billing with Baptism) we have perhaps gone from the simple equation "Baptism = Forgiveness of Sin" to a two part equation "Repentance + Baptism = forgiveness of Sin" and then stopped. I understand we cannot expound on every point in every sermon or lesson, however, in my opinion, the omission of JESUS in the equation makes it easier for some to perhaps understand Repentance to be nothing more than the expression of guilt for specific sins and Baptism to be nothing more than dunking in water. Peter's sermons in Acts 2 and 3 placed emphasis on JESUS.

From a Ministry Leader in California:

Brother Al, You've stepped into a bit of a conundrum with this article. While I agree with everything you say in principle, I think that in practice some people are going to run into some problems that perhaps you could address. While no one with any sense of understanding of the Scriptures would disagree that repentance is necessary for salvation, how does one determine that someone else has indeed repented? I think you clearly stated what repentance is, and I agree wholeheartedly, but some folks may well ask who is to be the judge of whether or not someone has repented? I believe the reason that repentance has been given such short shrift is because many people are either unwilling or unable to make that determination. I hope that your lesson on repentance sinks in. It is a long neglected topic that needs to be brushed off and tossed around a bit. Thank you for tackling it, and kudos to the doctor in Alabama for his perception on the subject.

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