The Baptisms, The Temptation of Christ, New Wine.

One of the central themes running through the Gospel of Matthew is the gift by God's grace of His truth, or "that which is pleasing to His heart", through understanding of his word. As much as we as Christians are called by God to faith, the purpose of God is to make his Israel (Christ's body if you prefer) a nation of priests. The most commonly cited scripture is the reference to the temple veil being torn from top to bottom during the earthquake following Christ's death. Opened is the way to approach God personally and directly without the need for a priest to intercede.

Within Matthew's gospel in particular is the doctrine that each believer is called as a priest. Whilst one person teaches and ninety nine listen, unless those ninety nine begin to know the heart of God for themselves, they will never teach and God's plan stagnates. The opening up of the scriptures to an individual during their own study is the path to edification and is often the first direct evidence for most Christians that God is guiding them. It is not God's will that new Christians stay as lambs forever, but that they become mature sheep. The wisdom of God is to reveal his heart through the scriptures to the individual, and not as from one anointed individual to many, unless that individual is Christ Himself.

You might well ask, "Well, how do you convert anyone, and why did the apostles teach to large crowds?" - The answer is simple. First came the baptism of John by water for the remission of sins. The water in John's time was in one place and people went to him... this continued until the water (compare with the conversion process of preaching) ran out. Jesus, baptises with the Holy Spirit and with "fire", and that baptism is over until YOU run out (or are "burned up"). Repentance is necessary for conversion, but as followers of Christ we give up our lives for his sake.

-- Click To Expand/Collapse Bible Verses -- Mat ch3:v11-17
Mat 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
Mat 3:12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Mat 3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
Mat 3:14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
Mat 3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
Mat 3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
Mat 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (KJV)

So, why did Jesus need to be baptised by John? When I myself was being prepared for baptism, I was told Jesus was baptised "to identify himself with sinners". This seemed adequate until I asked "Why?" I realised that John was not the one baptising but it was a work of the Holy Spirit through him. So, God was actually the one baptising Jesus, hence the reception by the Holy Spirit and the voice from heaven. Jesus had no need to be baptised for the remission of his sins like any other; Jesus taught that the law was taught through all the prophets until John. As Jesus came to fulfil the law, he couldn't very well start his ministry as something new without picking up where the then standing covenant left off.

The words of Christ "to fulfil all righteousness" always caused me trouble. John's mission in his own words to "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." I understood as to prepare the people who came to him to accept the teaching of Christ. Christ himself taught time and time again that nothing he had taught in parables had not been given him to say directly from His Father. So then, the teaching is His Father's. As we and the people "back then" are to prepare ourselves for a life in Christ (that takes us from converts to priests ourselves), so we can also receive that word which Christ received from his Father - in the same manner the people once received from Christ. Though holy and not needful of repentance at his baptism, Christ received the Father's spirit and understanding at baptism by water as we receive whilst being converted. - Though with us on a smaller scale.

There are accounts in the New Testament where converts have received the Holy Spirit before baptism, though Biblically the two events were not usually separated by long periods of time.

However, knowing Jesus most certainly baptises His own flock with the Holy Spirit, it follows that He also baptises with fire those that are not part of His flock. Those that are not believers are not chosen, so are automatically on their way to hell. In this sense they are sent to the lake of fire, and the justification for this is that they had not the prerequisite faith in Christ required for election in grace. The baptism of Christ was a sign that those in whom God is well pleased (His people, the body of Christ, spiriual Israel) are gathered in the spirit, wheras those not chosen (the non-elect) are gathered to be burned with fire. The excuse that "Christ was not baptised for me" is as void as is the assertion "Christ is baptised for me" is also true and valid for anyone whom has not been baptised with water (though they have received the Holy Ghost.)

Since the temptation of Christ in the wilderness is extensively covered Here, I will only write here on the subject of whether God can be tempted to evil.

I saw an online video of a man attempting to prove the non-divinity of Christ through quoting scripture. He quite rightly pointed out a verse along the lines of "God can not be tempted to evil". Jesus was tempted, therefore he isn't God. Fair enough, God doesn't "usually" do evil, but he has used deception to pull down the wicked and prop up the poor and just. He has deceived by sending lying spirits to catch his enemies in his snares. There is ample scripture that reads along the lines of "God will bring evil down on the heads of..". God himself said he has created both good and evil. However, God is good because when he makes a covenant He will keep it. When it is broken by man, God is free to condemn.

Tempting God to evil sounds almost like it may be done by asking him to count you yourself more worthy than another. Asking for the guy up for a promotion at work to die so you can get the job is an example. However, God is no respecter of persons and as rightly said, he is not tempted to evil. ~ If a man sold his soul, and received it back from God with the promise it is safe with Him,.. If the man sold it again to win the lottery and asked God for it back, would God restore it or make an example of him?

God would have affirmed the man's soul was safe, either reaction by God is good, but if the man did it a third time? Would God say his soul is no longer safe? Thus it is with tempting God. Tempting him to break his word (or promises) once it is revealed is closer to the point. Jesus was tempted to 'worship' satan and bend the rules on the basis that failure was something that could be divinely tidied up afterward to look pure even if it wasn't. Jesus is God so it was His own word he would have broken. Jesus was there to fulfil the law in full view of men, not to show His own Godhood! His example is for us to live by, and not for us to know we cannot be Godly. Same principle as with the soul example above.

The truth is, Jesus could make stones bread, he could have seized all the kingdoms of the world from satan then and there without worshipping him, and could jump off any high place and stay up all day if he wanted. None of which would have been evil, but Jesus obviously had more important words to listen to.

It might help to refresh your memory of the following verses;

-- Click To Expand/Collapse Bible Verses -- Mat ch9:v14-17
Mat 9:14 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
Mat 9:15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.
Mat 9:16 No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.
Mat 9:17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved. (KJV)

As Jesus was baptised and went into the wilderness to fast - presumably to commune with the Holy Spirit that alighted upon him, Whilst Jesus was with his disciples they had no need to fast to hear God, He preachd right in front of them. After Jesus finally ascended then they would have to fast if they wished to purify themselves and avoid distractions. By saying no one takes from a new cloth to add to the old, thus ruining the new cloth, and new wine bursts old bottles, He tells them they are not concerned with 'traditional ways' but Jesus is doing something new. Although He seems to say His new ways are not worth wasting on the old ones, He is not so much dismissing them as declaring His own status as a mediator for a new covenant.

The law is complete, (I don't mean fulfilled, although it is) and there is nothing missing from it, there is no need to add to the law, and ruin what it was before or rather, assert it lacked something fundamental, and therefore what is new with it also... A new covenant is just that, new - and Jesus Christ brought it. The new covenant was built upon the completion in Christ of the old covenant, nothing from the new "fixed" or mended the old, or could only exist if the old were modified. The new is the old reformed into its proper fashion through its completion and the revelation of Jesus Christ as messiah. Both covenants stand, but the new has superceded the old.

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