By Kenneth Carpenter
`And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments Lis], Hear, 0 Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord” (Mark 12:28-29).
From the lips of our Lord the word is given that the first of all the commandments is “The Lord…is one.”
The first five books of the Bible contain over 600 commandments, with many others throughout the rest of The Book. This fact alone underscores the power of Jesus’ statement that the first, and greatest, commandment in that The Lord our God is one.
The Hebrew word for “first” is Protos, which means “first in time or place in any succession of things or persons?’
The foundation of our relationship with God is that knowledge that our God is one. Every commandment is attached to this one. Like pieces of a puzzle, each one connects to the other, and forms the whole at completion.
Having an unbiblical view of God will prove fatal to our understanding in other areas of Scripture. For example, in our country there are thousands of miles of train track. These tracks all have a standard width of 4 feet, 8.5 inches. This standard measurement ensures that, from state to state, trains can run smoothly. It would be disastrous for one state to decide to change the width of their tracks.
Yet something of greater tragedy did occur in the 4th century when the Catholic Church introduced a new, man-made “definition” of God in direct contradiction to Scripture. These men, not being led by the Spirit of God, introduced a new doctrine known as the trinity, separating into co-equal “persons” each major manifestation of God. A simple search on Google provides all the needed information regarding man’s development of Trinitarian doctrine. And since that time, a majority of Christians accept this doctrine without ever searching the Word of God to verify its validity.
Because of this erroneous teaching, water baptism was changed to use the titles of God, rather than the name of Jesus. Those who rightly divide the Word of Truth know that Matthew 28:19 is a command from Jesus to the Apostles to baptize “in the name:’ Millions today, unfortunately, are still baptized repeating the titles, and not for the purpose of the remission of sins, as scripture teaches:
“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” (Acts 2:38).
`And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
With water baptism in Jesus’ name comes the promise of the Holy Ghost. And with the baptism of the Holy Ghost comes the power to live life as a witness for Jesus, and to live above the power of sin:
Tut ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses…” (Acts 1:8).
At this special season I am eternally thankful that this precious truth, and all that is connected with it, was presented to me in the purity of Scripture.
I leave you with this personal story. Several years ago, when Sister Carpenter and I were blessed with our very first granddaughter, Paris, Brother David and Sister Frankie Poole were so kind to put together a special gift for our granddaughter. The Pooles were so thoughtful, spending time and money to send our first grandchild some beautiful clothing, personalized with her name embroidered on them They packaged everything up and mailed it to our address here in Tennessee. A few days later, however, a beat up box arrived at our home. It had Brother Poole’s name and address, so I opened it and—much to my surprise—there was a leather vest; some worn out, dirty t-shirts advertising a cal wash somewhere in Louisiana; and a leather Harley Davidson cap.
I didn’t know if this was a joke, quite honestly, and I was more than a little puzzled by it. Several weeks later Brother Poole called and asked if we received the gift. I reluctantly told him that we had, and told him what the box contained. Brother Poole was very embarrassed and explained that he had placed some clothing from Dillard’s with Paris’ name embroidered on it in the box. Somewhere between Louisiana and Tennessee, someone opened the box, and exchanged those dirty clothes for the precious gift inside.
My friends, we have a responsibility to preach across our pulpits only that which left the pens of the apostles and prophets; to ensure that precious gift makes it to our “children, and to all that are afar off.”
Kenneth Carpenter is the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ.