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Anabaptists

As we continue to look at various Protestant Reformers, I want to introduce you to a group most people are
probably unfamiliar with. The Anabaptists were a group of reformers that rejected infant baptism and believed in full
immersion. Some Anabaptists were pacifists and others were fairly militant, but all stood for believer baptism.
 
The reason I bring them up is that the Independent Christian Church, of which we are a part, dated back to the
early 1800’s, but our understanding of baptism can be traced through the centuries all the way to very earliest days of the
Church. There has always been a remnant that has understood baptism as for believers, not infants, and to be done by full
immersion. In fact, every church document before about 250 AD describes baptism as being for believers and linked
strongly with salvation.
 
Our stance on baptism, while different than many other churches, has a strong history throughout the ages and
almost universally held in the earliest days of the Church. In fact, it dates at least to the Day of Pentecost, where Peter
said, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will
receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”


John Wycliffe

October 31, in addition to being Halloween, is also “Reformation Day”, which is the day Martin Luther nailed
the 95 Theses to the door of Wittenburg Church and started the Protestant Reformation. Like almost all
non-Catholic churches, our church is Protestant, and so I felt it might be worthwhile to spend each week in
October talking about various reformers.

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Rejoice and Be Glad

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice
and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you. —
Matthew 5:11-12
 
If people criticize you for being a Christian, you are in good company. Consider what the prophets, apostles and
our Lord himself endured. But remember this: Your critics have no more power than you give them. If you start getting
paranoid and running scared and begin to respond in kind, you will appear
weaker even to your supporters.
 
Prayerfully consider suggestions from constructive critics. But keep cool and ignore nitpickers. Seek to please
God, and God’s people will usually be pleased with you.
 
Remember the blessing Jesus gives to those who are persecuted for doing good. They are like the prophets, and
their reward in heaven will be great.


Every Knee Shall Bow

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue
confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. –Philippians 2:10–11
 
The Philippian Hymn concludes with this interesting passage. Some people have interpreted this passage to
mean that everyone will be saved in the end. Some have seen it as hyperbole. I believe that the best way to
interpret this verse is that, at the return of Jesus, every human being alive, no matter where they are, will be
forced to admit that Jesus is Lord. When Jesus returns, everyone will fall to their knees in awe. Christians will
fall in wonder and awe, and those who rejected Christ will realize their mistake. It will be too late to change
their mind, but they will realize who Jesus is.


Fridge Rights

After my sermon yesterday, Jackie and I were discussing the service and she said, “I thought you were going to
mention ‘fridge rights’ the way you were going.” I told her that I hadn’t even thought of it, but it would have
been a perfect addition to the sermon on unity. The term ‘fridge rights’ comes from a book we read a long time
ago that describes a deep enough level of friendship that when you’re at their house, you don’t have to ask to
get something from the fridge, you can just help yourself. You usually find this kind of closeness only between
family members or lifelong friends.
 
Who has ‘fridge rights’ in your life? Are there people who have a deep enough relationship with you to ask hard
questions, to be there for you no matter what? That’s true unity.


Became Obedient to Death, Even Death on a Cross

Legend tells of a time when Alexander the Great demanded the surrender on a foreign ruler. The ruler scoffed
and asked why he should surrender when his force was twice as large as Alexander’s. This meeting took place
near a cliff, and Alexander ordered his soldiers to line up and march towards the cliff. One by one the soldiers
stepped unwaveringly off the edge, plummeting to their death. After the first five soldiers fell to their doom, the
foreign ruler announced his surrender. Any general that could command such total obedience in their soldiers
would be unstoppable in battle.

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He Humbled Himself

“He Humbled Himself”
Philippians 2:8
 
We, as human beings, like to compare. I grew up in St. Louis, and one of the (apparently) unique characteristics
of St. Louis residents is to ask one another which high school they went to. I had a few friends who were discussing why
this question was asked so routinely. While part of the reason might be to discover mutual friends or acquaintances, the
people in the discussion were pretty open about their real motives. It was a clue to social standing! Did the person live in a
poor area or a wealthy one? Finding out which school a stranger went to was a tactful way to discover the person’s likely
socio-economic status.

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The Nature of a Servant

“Taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself . . .” (Philippians 2:7–8).
 
When I was in college, my first job on campus was cleaning the communal bathrooms in the boys’
dorm. It was hardly a glamourous job. It certainly wasn’t the job I would have chosen, but it was one I was
assigned. A couple weeks into the semester, though, I began to realize that this job was more than just a way to
make a couple bucks. It was a way to serve the guys I lived with. Seeing my job as serving my friends changed
my attitude about the job.

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Made Himself Nothing

“[He] did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing” Phil. 2:6b-7a
Imagine becoming an infant again. Think of all that you would lose! You would no longer be able to drive
where you want to go, fix yourself food you want to eat, and talk to friends with ease. Newborns can’t even
hold up their own heads. They have minimal understanding that their hands are even part of their body, much
less able to use those hands to manipulate the world around them. If you retained your memories of your current
life, you would undoubtedly feel trapped. You would be a prisoner in your own body.

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In Very Nature God

As we continue our study of this Philippian hymn, we encounter this tiny little phrase with deep theological
significance. We are told Jesus is “in very nature God”. Orthodox Christian teaching holds that Jesus is fully man and
fully God. In some way we cannot fully understand that he was both a living, breathing, physically human being, but also
God in every sense of the word. 100% man and 100% God. This may sound like meaningless philosophical mumbo
jumbo, but it is of utmost importance. Jesus was the mediator between God and man. If he was all Divine and not man, he
could not have taken our place on the cross. If he was all human and not divine, his death would not cancel all of
humanity’s debt.

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