Understanding Believer’s Baptism

Baptism Front Cover



Baptism in the Bible

John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Mark 1:4-5)

Here we see John baptizing and we see no infants at all. All we see is that those who were baptized confessed their sins. Repentance was required for those who sought the baptism of John. When moving on to the baptism of Jesus we read:

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 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.” (Matthew 3:13-15)

Now we know the Scripture tells us that Jesus was baptized in order to reveal Himself and start His ministry (John 1:31-34) but something is said here that draws particular interest.

When Jesus approached John to be baptized John tried to refuse and said “I have need to be baptized of you.” Why did he say this? The answer is that confession of sin is necessary for baptism and Jesus had no sin. John was attesting to the sinlessness of Christ and to his own sinfulness by saying you should be baptizing me but I shouldn’t baptize you.

This supports credobaptism because it shows a confession of sin closely associated with the one being baptized and therefore shows that the person being baptized must have the awareness required for that.

Moving on now to the Great Commission we read:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Here if we follow the command of Christ in the order given we are told to teach all nations which means to preach the Gospel or to make converts. Then He said to baptize them and teach them all He has commanded. So we see here conversion, baptism, and then discipleship. We see here a strong case for believers baptism.

When we see the command of Peter in Acts 2:38 he said:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Here again we see repentance commanded before baptism. Whenever we see baptism being practiced we see first repentance on the part of the one being baptized.

In Acts 8:34-38 we see the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch:

And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.”

When the Eunuch asked what hindered him from being baptized the only condition Philip gave was that if he believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He required salvation before baptism. This is the clearest case of credobaptism. He basically said as long as Jesus is your creed you may be baptized.

When we move on to the passage where the Gospel is sent to the Gentiles we see a similar exchange take place:

And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”

Here again we see the test for baptism is that they had received the Holy Ghost. Not that someone else had testified of their faith in place of the one being baptized. This would also mean infants could not be included in this because he said they could not forbid water to those who had received the Holy Ghost.

We return again now to Acts 16:31-34 and the incident with the Philippian jailer:

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”

Here we see the Gospel being preached to ALL in his house, we see ALL in his house believing the Gospel, and we see ALL in his house being baptized.

To review we see John requiring repentance for baptism, and Jesus being sinless was seen as not needing baptism since He had no sin to repent of. Jesus commanded we preach the Gospel and then baptize those we preach to.

Peter commanded repentance to precede baptism, and said baptism could not be forbidden to those who received the Holy Ghost or those who had been saved. Phillip said the Eunuch could be baptized if he truly believed or was saved, and Paul baptized all who believed in the house of the jailer.

The only baptism that has any Scriptural basis is believers baptism and the only requirement for one to be baptized is faith in God and repentance of sin. This is believers baptism and this is what is taught in the clear meaning of Scripture.

“Understanding Believer’s Baptism” is available in paperback or ebook through http://www.rickgarland.com


Lessons From My Fathers: In The Beginning


In The Beginning

The Bible is made up of sixty-six books overall, but it is actually one book that tells one unfolding story. The message that permeates every verse, of every chapter, of every book is the story of Jesus Christ. That story begins with:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

My story must begin the same way. In the beginning God created the environment for our family to be saved. He created a series of events, places, people, and sermons. All leading the way to the time and place picked out very specifically in which He would manifest Himself in our lives.

Oh, I know I could say that circumstance and coincidence happened over and over in our history but that would be a lie. To the casual observer my Grandma Green moved to the San Francisco Peninsula from Springfield, Missouri in 1933 because her dad got a job painting the Golden Gate Bridge. After all I suppose careers move people around all the time. Often as we go through life we make decisions, and moves, and life changes that we assume are our own choosing but we in our small world often miss the unseen guiding hand of a God who is weaving His own plan, a bigger plan, an eternal plan.

My Grandpa Green made his way out to the San Francisco Bay Area from Louisiana in 1942 with his wife Irene. He had been working on the railroad but came west looking for work. He ended up as a dockworker. I’m sure he could not have imagined the plan that God was putting together for his life. Often God ‘s plan is put in place by moving people, families, even whole nations in order for His plan to come together.

I think of Alexander the Great who spread the Greek language around the world by his conquests. To the average onlooker especially those who have been through war would see just another war, another nation invading someone else, or perhaps a leader thirsty for power. To broaden our perspective to the larger eternal plan the conquests of Alexander were much more than just another war, or a power hungry leader. His spreading of the Greek language just before the birth of Christ enabled the spread of the Gospel easily throughout the known world.

We see another great example in the Pharaoh who was in power during the events of Exodus. His rise to power at that exact time in history was more than mere circumstance or family heritage. God even said it in Exodus 9:16:

And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.”

So the purpose in this very king rising to the throne was for the release of the children of Israel. Let’s move to a modern example. We can look during the last century at the rise of Adolph Hitler in Germany. As terrible as the events of the holocaust were they served to bring about the establishment of the State of Israel. God worked through these events and brought this man to power at just the right time in history to bring about His purposes for His people.

We could even look to the death of Jesus Christ Himself. It was no coincidence that Pontius Pilate was over that region of the Roman Empire at that exact moment in history. So often we fail to see the weaving of God in our lives but much of the moving of people and families lends to God preparing for His plans to take place.

My grandmother as a teenage girl lived down the street from my grandfather who was married to someone else at the time. The reader must keep in mind there was a fourteen year age difference between them. She even babysat his sons Jerry and Terry when they were eight and three years old never thinking she would become their stepmother.

Over time as grandma grew up she went off and got married. She had her first daughter Sharon but ended up in an abusive marriage and was eventually divorced. Grandpa got divorced in 1946 and around 1950 they began dating each other. Grandpa spent three years proposing marriage but grandma spent three years keeping him waiting until they finally wed in 1953. Now to imagine for a minute that his move to the Bay Area, and her families move to the Bay Area, and their living down the street from each other is all just circumstance and coincidence would be to ignore the working of God.

Our lives even when we are unsaved are not subject to circumstance. God had an eternal plan but before landmarks could ever be set the players on the stage of life had to be moved around and moved into place to accomplish the plan for their lives. None of it was by accident. This thought gives me great peace to know that if their lives were being guided and prodded by the Lord then surely my life as well is being guided on an eternal path to accomplish an ultimate end.

My dad was born in Fontana, California. For those of you who are fuzzy on geography that is about 400 miles from where he lived in Mountain View, California when he met my mom. I see in that side of my family as well a pattern of God moving them to the places He wanted them to be to work His plan for their lives.

What brought him across the State you may ask? In August of 1970 his family came to northern California for a job at United Technology Company. As the old story goes a job for my Grandpa Garland moved them into a specific place. We can once again look at the situation whether a transfer or a job offer or whatever else may have transpired it can be said that without the knowledge of those involved God was working out a plan but first he had to move people into specific places.

Stop for a moment and examine your own family history. Why are you where your at? If your mom and dad came from different parts of the nation and found each other then what brought them to that place?

We can see in most of our lives that this is true. The fact that it is true does not explain how or why it is. What moved this person here or there?

How did Bob and Sue both end up in the place they were at the moment they were to find one another? At this point we can turn to the Bible for the answer. Paul was preaching in Athens and while there he said:

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.” (Acts 17:24-27)

He had been observing the various idols and gods of Athens before he started preaching then he started by pointing out that the true God does not dwell in temples made by hands, and He is not worshiped with men’s hands meaning the statues and idols that were made and worshiped were nothing but false gods because the one true God did not need the work of men’s hands to be worshiped.

In fact the one true God did not need anything from man. It is He who gives to all life, breath, and all things. Everything we have in this world was given to us by God and we are accountable to Him for how we steward these things. Finances, houses, cars, children, jobs, education, clothes, friends, and the list could be endless. All we have comes from God and He requires nothing of us. There is nothing we could conceive to give God that He doesn’t already have or could not create by the Word of His mouth.

He then declares that God created from one man (Adam) all the nations of mankind. He has determined the times before appointed this means He has our days numbered before we are even conceived in the womb. He had the total years of my life numbered before my grandparents even moved to the part of the country where they would meet each other.

Before my dad lived in the same community as my mom, God had already worked it out. David put it this way:

Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:16)

God told the prophet Jeremiah that He knew him even before he was conceived in the womb and He had ordained him as a prophet even before he was born.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

Getting back to Paul’s sermon, he goes on to say that God determined the bounds of our habitation. That is a reference to the geographical location in which we live in this world. God determined it and He did it in the hope that we may feel our way toward Him and find Him. This was the eternal plan for my family. Find Him we did, but not without His help.

The main point I want you to see is that God is the main player in this game of life and we can rest assured that in all things good and bad He is weaving a pattern according to His own marvelous plan. I’m sure divorce was not easy for either of my grandparents but in the sorrow of those times God was weaving a better plan. Corrie Ten Boom who was a holocaust survivor and Christian evangelist used a poem to tell her story and it goes like this:

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ‘til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas

And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”

(Benjamin Malachi Franklin)

It would be a disservice to mention some of the lessons from my fathers if I left out the back story of how my family came to Christ. It would be like following the story of the Exodus without hearing the stories in Genesis that led to the nation of Israel in the first place. We read in the Scriptures:

Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” (Acts 17:22-23)

I want to reminisce in this book and to encourage, but the story of my fathers, of my family is a story of the sovereignty, love, compassion, and gentle guiding of God. It is Him that I declare unto you. I want you to know the God we know. To trust Him, love Him, and follow Him as we do and as my fathers did. My grandparents would be disappointed and I would do you a disservice to not show you how we came to believe in the God of the Bible and through that faith my fathers would lay the landmarks that I look to today.

 “Lessons From My Fathers” can be purchased in paperback or ebook through http://www.rickgarland.com

Unholy Devotion: Catholic Salvation




Catholic Salvation

“O Mother of Perpetual Help, thou art the dispenser of every grace that God grants us in our misery; it is for this cause that He hath made thee so powerful, so rich, so kind, that thou mightest assist us in our miseries. Thou art the advocate of the most wretched and abandoned sinners, if they but come unto thee; come once more to my assistance, for I commend myself to thee. In thy hands I place my eternal salvation; to thee I entrust my soul. Enroll me among thy most faithful servants; take me under thy protection and it is enough for me: yes, for if thou protect me, I shall fear nothing; not my sins, for thou wilt obtain for me their pardon and remission; not the evil spirits, for thou art mightier than all the powers of hell; not even Jesus, my Judge, for He is appeased by a single prayer from thee. I fear only that through my own negligence I may forget to recommend myself to thee and so I shall be lost. My dear Lady, obtain for me the forgiveness of my sins, love for Jesus, final perseverance and the grace to have recourse to thee at all times, O Mother of Perpetual Help.” Prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help

We are always told that Catholics are trusting in Jesus for their salvation and that they only honor Mary. We are told that they don’t see Mary as greater than Christ but that they honor Christ by honoring Mary. I’m sure most Catholics are sincere in believing this but from the prayer we have just seen this is a lie.

They call Mary, not Jesus, the dispenser of God’s grace, this is contrary to Scripture.

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)

They say that God made her powerful:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matthew 28:18)

They say that God made her rich:

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

They say that God made her kind:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

They say that she assists us in our misery:

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

The prayer says Mary is the Advocate of sinners:

My little children, these things write I unto you that ye sin not. And if any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1)

The prayer says, “I commend myself to thee.” Not to Jesus but to Mary. The prayer goes on to say that in her hands we place our eternal salvation, not in the hands of Jesus but Mary. Scripture never mentions her in relation to salvation:

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

The prayer says that Mary protects us and with her protecting us we will fear nothing. Scripture says our security comes from God:

I will both lay me down in peace and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)

Does Christ not want to protect us? Should we still fear if we ask Him for protection? It says we won’t fear our sins because Mary, not Jesus, obtains pardon and remission of sins.

It goes on to say that she is mightier than all the powers of hell even though Jesus claims to have the keys of hell (Revelation 1:18). It goes even further into error by saying we won’t even fear Jesus because He is appeased by one prayer from her.

To say that Jesus is mean and angry and we should be afraid of Him unless His good, sweet, kindhearted mother calms Him down is blatant blasphemy. They see her as kinder than Him. This of course comes from their pagan roots where the ancient Virgin goddess had to appease the wrath of the vengeful gods.

The prayer goes on to say that if we don’t recommend ourselves to her we will be lost. No place in Scripture does it tell us to come to anyone but Christ for salvation nor does it say we need to go through anyone to get to Christ.

The prayer in direct defiance of Scripture asks Mary to obtain the forgiveness of our sins:

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

It even says that she gives us final perseverance. This defies Scripture as well:

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 24)

The answer is clear; the Roman superstition teaches that salvation is found not in Jesus Christ, but in Mary. This is a foreign concept to Scripture and cannot be supported except by the traditions of men.

“Unholy Devotion” can be purchased in paperback or ebook through http://www.rickgarland.com


Getting Started

We are just getting started here at rickgarland.com. Several of my titles are being updated and will become available soon. My new book Hunting Hollywood is set to release February 2nd. We have added to the website the books that are available as of now. We will let you know as the others are added. Please follow us through this website and Facebook to keep up to date. Thank you all so much.