Infant Baptism Biblical or Unbiblical? (Part 2)

With part 1 we looked at the fact that infant baptism is not supported by the Word of God.  Today, we will learn about the perversions of God’s Word that those who espouse infant baptism use to defend and/or justify their unbiblical practice.  Some folks have a very simplistic way of viewing baptism regardless of the mode, practice, and message behind it.  However, infant baptism is not a mere ceremony, which after it is performed, is an event that is no longer significant, nor is it an isolated ordinance.

Consider the following Scripture:  “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth, and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16).  Dear reader, do you see it?  The order of the Great Commission is imperative and is to be observed, followed, and practiced.  First of all, one MUST believe and secondly, baptism comes after, and this is known as “believer’s baptism.”

Biblical baptism is a result of an inward change upon the lost sinner becoming born again.  Because the Lord now dwells within a new convert there is a new character as well.  To baptize an infant is to do so regardless of the inward change and therefore though still an infant remains in the spiritual status of a lost sinner.  The infant cannot make a public profession of faith in Christ Jesus nor does the infant have any ability whatsoever to repent and trust Christ as Savior.

One of the explanations given by those who practice infant baptism is:  “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39).  A supportive verse given by those who practice infant baptism is:  “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy” (1st Cor. 7:14).  They believe that there is a sense in which the children of even one believing parent are made holy; and that they are set apart from the world by God.

Let’s take an expository look at these two verses.  “For the promise is unto you, and to your children…”  The Greek translation of “children” in this verse is:  τέκνον, ου, τό (teknon) and is defined as:  a child, descendent, inhabitant.  The use of this term by Peter, is in the sense of posterity.  Another perversion of this passage is that the promise related to the blessings pledged in the “covenant with Abraham.”  The “promise” as stated by Peter, was the gift of the Holy Ghost to believers.  With this perversion they maintain that the “gospel” covenant is a continuance of the covenant of circumcision.

They will quote Genesis 17:7 which says, “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.”  One other perversion of this passage, is the claim that Peter means by “the promise,” that infants are to be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and be taken into the church.  Some parents who become members of the church will ask, “what about my children?  Shouldn’t they be allowed to become members as well?”  These ministers will quickly say, “why yes, indeed they should be included and by all means that great promise of God’s being to you a God, is as much to you and your children now, as it ever was.”

The Presbyterians are widely known for their practice of infant baptism and in accordance with the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) Chapter 28 titled: ‘Of Baptism,’ para. #4 states: “Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, (but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized”). The Presbyterians also believe that the New Testament texts commanding baptism are always more, and not less, inclusive than circumcision.

Regarding baptism Presbyterians believe that there is 1) continuity of the covenant of grace, 2) that there is a parallelism between baptism and circumcision, 3) the setting apart of believers and their children, 4) the expansion, rather than the contraction of that covenant, and 5) Jesus’ willingness to richly bless children brought to him by parents who trusted in him. Furthermore, they believe that those who are children of Abraham by faith, just like those who were once children of Abraham by birth, should give their children the sign and seal of the gospel, and pray that they will come to understand and believe the gospel their parents hold to.

Presbyterians also believe that to withhold or neglect the baptism of an infant to be a “great sin,” although they don’t consider it to be so critical in its importance that grace and salvation are inseparably annexed or joined to it.  Remember, the term “children” does not biblically refer to infants.  Presbyterians strongly hold to the circumcision being a sacramental sign that sealed a righteousness which the patriarch already had, by faith, as an uncircumcised man.

More to come…





Reaching the Remote!

This last Saturday was a major blessing for our family as we had the privilege of meeting a brother and sister in Christ who live in Western Colorado. We met first at a restaurant and then were invited to their home where they unveiled to us a series of devices that will allow us to accomplish one of our long-term goals before we even get to Liberia.

Our goal was to see the New Testament put into audio format for the purpose of providing pastors/church-planters with the Word of God in their heart language. We were not aware that a major project has been made available to those working in the remote areas of the world.

In fact, New Testaments in audio format are available in several of the languages in Liberia on the above pictured device. This little device is solar-powered and on a full-charge can play up to 14 hours. It is simple to operate. I am including a link to Renew Outreach where these devices can be obtained.

The Lord is so good and we thank Him for allowing us to be directed to this 21st technology that will be used to the glory of God. What a blessing to these people who cannot read or pastors who struggle to read that they will be able to share that God’s Word is not just in English. Sometimes we have not because we ask not!

For the cost of a good leather Bible, this Renew Papyrus can put the audio Bible in English and a local Liberian dialect of the New Testament into the hands of nationals. Total cost with shipping is only $70!

What Happens If……?

There are many mission organizations in the world today. In fact, we are currently visiting the Colorado Springs area where there are several hundred para-church organizations based. What is the purpose of these groups? They are involved in medical work, education endeavors, humanitarian aid, etc., etc., etc., but are they truly accomplishing the Great Commission? What happens if they are not?

Lives are being spent across the world for many causes. People have been willing to leave the creature comforts that they have been used to all their lives and continue to move to the far-flung reaches of the world. They are involved in many different mission endeavors, some maybe more questionable than others. Are these “missionaries” truly accomplishing the Great Commission? What happens if they are not?

Churches are spending portions of their general and mission budgets to support the works that are spread across 6 of the 7 continents. Seeking to fulfill their part of the Great Commission, their money is being given and being spent with the purpose of supposedly reaching 7 billion people, the vast majority of which have never heard the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Are these churches truly accomplishing the Great Commission? What happens if they are not?

Part of our problem is seeking to define exactly WHAT the Great Commission is. When the Lord Jesus Christ left His disciples, His command was to “go into all the world and PREACH the gospel to every creature.” After they have been PREACHED to, they are to be baptized and discipled in all the things that the Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples.

So, our next questions should be – What part of the Great Commission have we failed to understand? What part of “preach the gospel” have we failed to comprehend as being a command from God?

By no means do I seek to demean the work being done in the name of Christ, but it is important that we give due diligence and see if the work being done in the name of Christ is actually what Christ commanded us to do!

For example, there are many who would throw verses from James around as though it is our responsibility to alleviate the poverty of the world. Verses from Deuteronomy or Isaiah somehow are twisted out of context to show how it the responsibility of every Christian and every church and every pastor and every missionary to “do their part” to rid the world of the evil blight of this disease called poverty that racks our world.

So, what happens when we provide clean water, solid nourishing food, a basic education standard, improved medical conditions, new buildings, properly built homes, good sanitation systems, commercial endeavors in the area of agriculture to all the nations of the world – yet fail to follow the Great Commission to PREACH the gospel?

1) We will have raised the living standard of the poor around the world.

2) We will be able to feel better about ourselves.

3) We will have raised the self-esteem of those who do not have the “privilege” of living in our exalted conditions here in the West.

4) We will be able to sleep better at night knowing that we have “done our part” in making the world a better place.

BUT ———

1) We will have forgotten that the root of the problem is NOT poverty.

2) We will have turned a convenient blind eye to the depravity of mankind.

3) We will have failed to understand that this world is NEVER going to get better until the Lord Jesus Christ returns and establishes His forever kingdom.

4) We will have missed the cry of the damned as they pass into eternity with full stomachs, nicer houses, educated, and in good health.

This will be information for a later post, but I would like to encourage our readers to give Biblical consideration to the message of the Gospel as well as to the purpose of the Gospel. People who live in a stone age existence continue to die, but those in poor villages who die without all the conveniences that we insist they MUST have but who have heard the gospel and accepted Christ as their Saviour die rich beyond compare.

What happens if….you could ask those in hell whether they are happy because they received medical support, a longer life expectancy, good education, better food, clean water – ALL AT THE EXPENSE OF THE GREAT COMMISSION??

The Great Commission is NOT a social gospel. It is a gospel that proclaims Jesus Christ came to a sin-cursed world to atone for the sins of mankind. He left His throne in glory not to make this world a place with better living conditions. He came because the wrath of God had to be turned aside and because sin’s penalty had to be paid. He came to redeem us from the bondage of sin, and one day He is coming back for His spotless Bride.

Everything else is but a facade covering the face of the broad road to destruction in hell if it is done at the expense of the Great Commission. Selah!

Scam Into Blessing – Part 5

The problem with prejudice is that it is pervasive. Its evil tentacles work their way down into the inner most part of your being. While your God-given conscience is screaming for attention and pointing out the error of your ways, prejudices become part of who you choose to become.

Prejudices take many forms, but the end result is almost always the same. One person thinks more highly of himself than he ought to think and in so doing puts down another. What is even worse is that when such events take place in the heart, they tend to manifest themselves outwardly in the life. And, of course, when that transpires, then the example of the Lord Jesus Christ is not being followed and we are in willful sin and disobedience to the Perfect Servant, Who died to save us, even when we were unlovable.

Sadly, this is part of the story for I found in dealing with issues of my own heart that prejudice had crept in. Ironic that even though I was a missionary pastor, I had allowed myself to consider that I was better than others. After all, I had been born in the affluent west. I had godly parents. I had been educated to a much higher standard than most of the people I was seeing around me, particularly in West Africa. And yes, to be honest, a part of me felt that I had been born with the right-colored skin tones!

If you had asked me if I considered myself to be prejudice, I would have categorically denied it. Yet, from the moment I got on the plane in London, England, and found myself surrounded entirely by passengers who were from Africa, a part of me was uncomfortable. I was concerned whether I would be safe during my travels into a part of the world I had never been, especially one that had only in the previous few months concluded a brutal civil war. And, I sure was thankful that I was not only much more civilized than that, but I came from a civilized nation! (Wow, who was I kidding!?!? – LOL)

Missionary books, documentaries, and liberal news articles had all done their part to slant my thinking about the continent of Africa in general and specifically the war-torn countries of West Africa. I got off the plane knowing that many mission groups were no longer in Liberia because home office and field staff considered the situation too volatile and dangerous for their missionaries and families.

My state of mind (and heart) was not faring much better as I realized the gravity of the situation once I saw that I had been royally scammed by an African, and not just any African, but one claiming to be a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and further claiming to be a minister of the glorious message of the gospel.

For the first few days, each person I saw was a target. I wondered whether it was safe to sleep at night, or to walk in the marketplace with my African pastor host. My thoughts were not dwelling on the spiritual plane, but on the earthly levels. To be brutally honest, I truly pondered much on whether I should have even gone to Africa. After all, I had been in England for almost 5 years as a pastor and the “results” of those years could be counted on one hand.

Africa was more or less a final hurrah in my mind. I was discouraged and just about ready to quit the ministry. My plans were to get the trip out of the way and enjoy my “safari” as much as possible for God was obviously not working in England, not pouring out His Spirit on “my” ministry, and therefore, probably not doing much in Liberia, West Africa, either.

I was not seeing people come to faith in Christ, no baptisms, discipleship was almost non-existent, and it seemed like church members were only putting on a show. In my mind, I had this ALL worked out, and all I needed was some confirmations from God proving that like Elijah, I had the right to have myself a pity party! But, like Elijah, I merely miscounted for I was not the only one with a misguided sense of purpose. No, there were actually others out there who thought more of others than they did of their own dire circumstances, and the lessons were getting ready to come thick and fast.

The weather was miserably hot. The humidity probably could not have gotten any higher without it actually raining. The reddish dust covering everything was thick and in just a couple of days felt like it had already permanently seeped its ways into my very pores. The shower which consisted of dipping a small plastic container into a 55 gallon water butt was quite cool, and while it felt good and was refreshing it was not what I needed to refocus my attention.

There was something that I was forgetting – the sovereignty of God! I had preached it and said I believed it, but I was getting ready to see it fully in action in ways I could only dream of, and at the end I would fully understand the phrase – SOLI DEO GLORIA – To God ALONE Be the Glory!

The heat combined with the new food and the incredible amount of stress was doing its work on me, so the remainder of Wednesday afternoon was spent resting until that evening. The shadows deepened until darkness finally overtook Liberia. There were no streetlights and it was very dark. A small ray of light shone from the small flashlight I had with me as I followed Pastor Togba from his house as we walked across the property to Maranatha Baptist Church for the mid-week prayer meeting.

I had already seen the building that would hold at least 175-200 people. The civil war had affected every level of society, and churches were not excluded. Maranatha Baptist had bullet and rocket holes throughout the entire building and rubble still existed in many parts of the building.

Pastor Togba shared that that an ECOWAS helicopter gunship pilot had met him after the war and shared that one day his patrol area against the rebels was Cauldwell, New Georgia District. They had known through surveillance and reports that the rebels were using the building as a headquarters in their relentless advance against the capital of Monrovia, but were not aware that it had been a church building. This pilot related that as they were responding to an attack from the rebels the building came under fire.

Radioing for instructions, the pilot stated that the order had been given to reduce the building to rubble and he had “firing discretion.” Flying in for a closer look, he maneuvered to the opposite end of the building and saw an hole up in the eaves that had been designed and built in the shape of a cross to label it as a church. The pilot shared that he was a Christian and could not bring himself to fire his missiles and destroy this location. While he had never met Pastor Togba previously and did not know about the church, the Lord allowed the building to remain in place for His own glory and honor.

That night, we walked through the darkness and moved into the stifling interior. There was only one light and it came from a lit candle on the pulpit. Each person had brought their own flashlight to church, but to conserve batteries, they would turn them off as soon as they arrived to the church to which they had walked, some for quite a distance.

I could discern a people in attendance as the song leader began to lead the congregation in songs that they knew by heart. In a later part of the story, I will relate the Liberian music style which is quite unique. After a couple of songs, one of the church elders brought a brief message on the responsibility of following Jesus as a true believer. When he completed, I listened as one after another, unseen individuals stood to their feet with a “Praise the Lord?” to which all the others would respond, “AMEN!”

They shared from their heart that they had so much to be thankful for. My own problems quickly went from insignificant to disappearing altogether as I listened with tears in my own eyes. I was glad that nobody could see me, but the Lord who knew my heart. He knew what I needed and the spiritual refreshment I had received not just from the ministry of the Word, but also from the simple giving of thanks from a people who had nothing to speak of in worldly terms. However, they did have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and because of that they had ALL things in common with one another – namely, the joy of the Lord.

Nothing was going to dampen their enthusiasm as they sang, or gave praise to God. Their own poverty did not prevent them in the least from lifting their voices in request for friends, family and even other nations who they felt were in need of a Saviour and who they felt were even in more dire straits than themselves. I will never forget one person who stood quite near to me exclaim, “Praise the Lord, we have so much to be thankful for. God has given us all we need.”

Walking back across the property, I didn’t turn on my flashlight as I followed Pastor Togba back to the house. I wanted to remind myself that all the things I had made me very rich in worldly goods compared to Liberians who have the 2nd poorest country in the world.

I was sobered as I thought about all I had heard and knew that some of the richness in the hearts of these people had worked its way through the darkness and filled my own heart with joy. My prayer would become that I would never forget what I had already seen and heard in just two days since landing in West Africa. With the Lord being my helper, I would learn to be thankful and any time I wanted to complain about what I didn’t “have” that the Lord would remind me of my brothers and sisters who were content with such things as they had.

Struggling through the night with heat and more of the “633 Mosquito Squadron”, I slept with peace in my heart knowing that whatever came next, it would be accepted as from the Sovereign hand of the Saviour who knew better than I what I needed to learn. And Thursday was going to bring more lessons in both humility and service in action!

(…to be continued…)

Scam Into Blessing – Part 1

The Pilgrim has asked if I would be willing to post the account of my missions trip to Liberia, West Africa. I am thankful to be able to do this, and I hope that this will be an encouragement to each of the readers and bring honor and glory to our Saviour.


In January 2007, I had the privilege of visiting Liberia, West Africa. Although during my first few hours of the trip, I cannot say that I counted it a blessing or a privilege for it was (humanly speaking) a scam artist that had managed to get me to Liberia. However, I am getting ahead of my story.

I was pastoring a small mission work in England, northeast of London about 80 miles. The Lord had been gracious to me through a very debilitating illness that saw me spending most of my days in bed for several months. I was finally able to start walking with a cane away from the house and it was just a handful of months later that I received an email from Liberia.

Our church was broadcasting my sermons on the internet and the writer of the email stated that they would like me to prayerfully consider offering some kind of training to their pastors. Over the next two months, the emails progressed to the point where they asked me if I would be willing to go to Liberia and conduct two groups of meetings. The first would be a training conference for local pastors and the second would be an evangelistic crusade in the capital of Monrovia.

Writing back, I informed them that I was just an unknown pastor in a small mission work and felt that they had the wrong individual or a misunderstanding about who I was or what I could offer. The next few emails assured me that they believed the Lord was in the contact and would love to have me visit their country which had just a few months previously come out of a devastating 15 year civil war.

Somewhat skeptically at first, then with growing courage, I applied for my Liberian visa, got a series of shots designed to protect me from tourist-hunting mosquitoes, and purchased my airplane ticket. I was now committed to leaving in January. However, once I had purchased my ticket and I was about 2 weeks away from going, the emails began to get really weird. Something seemed a little odd, but I could not put my finger on the problem.

My family went with me to Gatwick Airport in London, England, and with much trepidation we said goodbye not sure what would happen. The US State Department and the British Home Office had both advised against travel into Liberia and certainly not beyond Monrovia which was also part of the travel plans. The temperature was below freezing and I was wearing a winter coat. With my lighter British summer clothing, sunscreen, malaria tablets, anti-insect repellent, a case full of sermon cassette tapes and materials, and a few other things, I felt I was prepared to take West Africa by storm.

After an almost 7 hour flight due south, we flew into Freetown, Sierra Leone which also had recently concluded a brutal civil war. UN Russian-made gunships were sitting on the tarmac and there were guns everywhere being wielded by UN troops. We were on a 767 and the plane was completely full when we left London. At Sierra Leone, all but 10 passengers (including myself) got off the plane and after about 1 hour on the ground, we took off in a southeasterly direction headed towards Liberia as the last of the tropical sun faded from view. Unlike western nations, there were no lights twinkling up at us from the ground. No cities came and went underneath our wings, at least none that we could see.

After about an hour, the captain announced we were coming in to land and I began to worry as the plane went lower and lower. The wheels dropped and still we saw no lights. Finally, I saw the ground and small lights and flares right before the plane touched down. We taxied directly to what might be termed a terminal but was little more than a ramshackle concrete building. Collecting my bag, I left my seat wondering what the Dark Continent held in store for me.

Stepping from the comfort of the plane, I stepped into the open and promptly began to perspire in 95F heat at 9:30pm. The humidity was close to 90% and the mosquitoes began their quest for the pale white guy from England! LOL

Along with my 9 fellow passengers, we made our way down the steps and across the tarmac. Workers opened up the hold behind us to retrieve the few bags left under the watchful eyes of the UN soldiers manning their machine gun nests from a war-ravaged building that I later learned used to be a rather modern airport terminal, but was little more than a concrete hulk pitted and pockmarked with bullet and rocket holes.

We were ushered into the ramshackle building that now served as the Terminal for the Roberts International Airport of Monrovia. There were no other airplanes on the tarmac and nothing else would arrive for 2 more days. The airline I flew with only had one flight per week. After refueling, they would leave later that night and it would be about the time they took off that I would have given just about anything to be back on that plane flying to civilization and my waiting family.

Walking in, there was a sign reading Passports. I handed my passport through the window, but the person waved me off and pointed to a man standing in an open door one step to the right. I handed the passport to this man, who looked at it (upside down) then passed it back to the person sitting at the desk I had just tried to hand it to through the window! This individual also looked at the passport upside down and right-side up then stamped a mark in it. They then handed it back to the guy at the open door who reached out and handed it back to me. (Go figure! I thought well I guess both people need to earn their pay or maybe things are just REEEEEALLY different in Africa! Yep, to both thoughts as I would find out later.)

Turning around, I was instructed by the guy in the door that I needed to go to the next office and produce my vaccination proof for yellow-fever. I took 4 steps and reached the next office. Same routine, different office! This person could read and after verifying I had the appropriate serum running through my veins (at least on paper) as protection from a nasty disease, I was told to proceed to pick up my baggage.

5 more steps and the door opened to what I can only describe as sheer bedlam. As soon as I walked through, myself and the other 9 passengers were assaulted by a mass of people in a room that was lit with just one (1) lightbulb. Each passenger was being hit up for groups seeking the privilege to help you get through baggage control – for a fee, of course. Asking one of my veteran African travelers what the proper procedure was, he told me I should figure on paying a helper $1-3 dollars based on amount of luggage. This was the equivalent of a full day’s pay to a Liberian.

I agreed to a price and my luggage happened to be the last off. We walked a few steps into the other half of the building where my fellow 9 passengers already were in luggage control. Each had their bags opened on rickety tables and a group of Liberians were going through each piece of luggage. While I had nothing to hide, I would have preferred not to have my bags torn apart and then have to repack all the supplies for the pastors.

The three Liberians escorting me marched me to the front of the line. One of them was walking right behind me when we walked into this room. As we approached one of the tables, a heated conversation developed between the guys helping me with my luggage and the small group of people waiting to go through my Fruit of the Looms (LOL). The conversation was in another language which I later learned was probably Kpelle. The guy behind me had his hand on my back and was pushing me forward while the other two kept talking in a very animated fashion. Needless to say, the Lord answered a small prayer because the guys at the table stepped aside and I was allowed to pass into the night without opening a single bag!

With no knowledge of the local languages, barely understandable English being spoken by a few around me, and not exactly sure who I was supposed to be meeting, I walked through the doors to the outside and was greeted by a white missionary, Bro. Steve Trexler, with ABWE! Talk about a surprise. It was a real blessing because what came next would probably be the biggest surprise of my trip.

(…to be continued…)

Letter of thanks from Pastor Philemon

To all of our friends in God’s vineyard,

We greet you from the fields white unto harvest.  It is from Liberia we write where we are working to make sure that the work left with us is done properly till He come.  We send our hello.

I am Pastor Philemon Gwelikporlusohn, a Liberian serving in Liberia trying to accomplish the GREAT COMMISSON of our Lord. My family and I are involve with Church planting ministry.  We love the Lord and the job He give us. pray for us that we continue till Christ.

Philemon and family

I am a graduate of the Maranatha Bible Collage, Accra Ghana.  I am married to a young lady called Dylin for almost 20 years.  God has blessed our union with 6 girls.  She also serves as the foster mother of 3 other children who has been unfortunate due to the civil crises in our country.

We are right now pastoring a Church near Monrovia, it is called Highland Hills Baptist Church.  This is our fifth churchplant in Liberia.  The Lord is adding to the Church numerically, and we are trusting the Lord for spiritual growth and to work in our lives.  Discipleship is our focus.  Please pray with us as we plan for other areas which keep coming before our hearts and minds in order to start new mission stations.  We have recently started a new mission station at the St John, Bong Mine.  As the vision continues to grow, I will keep reminding you for more prayers.

We are very thankful to you for your prayers and monetary gifts to us in times like this especially after our house was robbed earlier this month.

Your gifts to us will continue to speak wherever I preach the good news in Liberia and beyond.  For your reminder, the Lord is not unjust that He cannot pay you for all you have and is doing because of Him.

Brothers, we greatly appreciate your gifts, thank you for remembering us.  Our fellow Christians are in our prayers from now on till we see our Christ come.

In His service,

Pastor Philemon