Born To Bear WitnessWritten by Hoyt W. Allen, Jr.
"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light." (John 1:6-8)
"Now this is testimony of John, when Jews sent priests and Levities from Jerusalem to ask him, 'Who are you.' He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, 'I am not Christ.' And they asked him, 'What then? Are you Elijah?' He said, 'I am not.' 'Are you Prophet?' And he answered, 'No.' Then they said to him, 'Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?' He said, 'I am
The voice crying in wilderness: Make straight way of Lord, as prophet Isaiah said.' Now those who were sent were from Pharisees. And they asked him saying, 'Why then do you baptize if you are not Christ, nor Elijah, nor Prophet?' John answered them saying, 'I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.' These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, 'Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away sin of world! This is He of whom I said, "After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water."' And John bore witness saying, 'I saw Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and testified that this is Son of God.'
Again, next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, 'Behold Lamb of God!' The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus." (John 1:19-37)
"After these things Jesus and His disciples came into land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. For John had not yet been thrown into prison. Then there arose a dispute between some of John's disciples and Jews about purification. And they came to John and said to him, 'Rabbi, He who was with you beyond Jordan, to whom you have testified - behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!' John answered and said, 'A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, "I am not Christ," but, I have been sent before Him. He who has bride is bridegroom; but friend of bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.'" (John 3:22-30)
John The Baptist
He is not to be confused with John, apostle, who was son of Zebedee and authored; John's Gospel, three letters of John, and Revelation of John.
John Baptist was son of Zachariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1). His birth was foretold by an angel to his parents, when they were elderly. His birth preceded that of Jesus', who was his cousin. He became a "Hell-fire and Brimstone" preacher. Preaching "repentance to Jews." His dress was very crude, that of camel's hair. His diet consisted of locusts and wild honey. However, even though he was not a "polished" preacher, he drew crowds. He baptized Jesus in Jordan. Due to his straight forward preaching, he ended up having his head removed (Matthew 14:1-12). The name "John" means "Gift of God" and is a Hellenized form for "Jonathan." There is a similarity between John and his Old Testament namesake. They both gave up opportunity to be popular for someone else. Jonathan stepped aside for David, while John stepped aside for Jesus. When we find name "John" in fourth Gospel, it is always in reference to John Baptist, and never Gospel writer. John realized that he was born to witness.
Where Are The Dead?Written by Stephen Kingery
Death is a subject that most people seem to avoid discussing. It would seem that people fear death because of mystery that surrounds it. On other hand, whenever someone claims to have had an out-of- body experience, people will listen intently about story. Television shows about people who have supposedly died and come back to life with these out-of-body stories are very popular. People are looking for something to comfort them concerning here-after. We know that comfort lies in Christ. So, lets take a look at what Scriptures have to say about dead and where they are. Our comfort lies in resurrection of Jesus Christ, for He said, "I am resurrection and life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die." (John 11:25,26) This Scripture is not referring to eternal life in physical state that we now exist. It is talking about eternal life in spiritual since, in that our spirit shall live on for eternity with Christ if we obey gospel. However, we shall receive a new body (See John 14:1-4 & II Corinthians 5:1-5).
We must recognize that "death" does not mean cessation of life, but separation. Death in physical since is separation of soul and spirit from physical body. Life, in real since, is contained in soul. The capacity to experience love, joy, understanding, loneliness, excitement, and so forth is expression of life. Our physical body is merely a place of residence (a house if you will) for our soul to stay while we are here on earth.
Where does our soul go upon death of body? To fully understand answer to that question, we must first know where we are before death. Where we go after death depends upon where we are before death.
Those of us living on earth that are of age of accountability are in one of two places: church, or world. The church was founded by Christ, "...on this rock I will build My church, and gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18b) The church is made up of all those who have obeyed gospel and are repentant baptized believers. These that remain faithful to end shall live for eternity with Christ as is indicated in John 11:25,26.
Those who have reached age of accountability and choose not to obey gospel are of world. They are subjects of Satan and reside in his kingdom (the world). They are sinners who enjoy and lust after things of this world. They refuse to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Baptism is dividing line between world and church. By being baptized (immersion) repentant believer comes into contact with saving blood of Christ. Salvation is thus realized through forgiveness of our sins and we are in Christ.
Where did souls go before death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Christ? To understand this we must realize that three different words are translated as "hell" in King James Version. These three words are Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus. Hades means abode of dead, not a place of eternal punishment. We can see this by reading Acts 2:27-31 where it is reported that Jesus went to Hades at death. We also see that Hades will be eventually cast into lake of fire -- Hell if you will -- at last day. (See Revelation 20:14) Gehenna means place of eternal punishment as seen in Mark 9:43-47. The word translated as hell in these verses is word Gehenna. Tartarus is an intermediate state of punishment. "For God did not spare angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgement;" (II Peter 2:4) The word translated as hell in this passage is Tartarus.
Remember that we said that Hades was abode of dead. Paradise was a part of Hades. This is indicated by fact that Jesus went to Hades after He died on cross. He told thief that he would be with Him in paradise. Therefore, paradise must have been a part of abode of dead at that time.
So, we see that at time Jesus was crucified, Hades consisted of Paradise and Tartarus. This fact is supported by story of rich man and Lazarus told by Jesus. This account shows that dead were either in a place of bliss or paradise (Abraham's Bosom) or a place of torment with a gulf separating two. Tartarus will eventually be cast into lake of fire -- Gehenna.
When Jesus ascended into heaven He took paradise and all Old Testament faithful with Him.