Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

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Greg Thomas

United Church of God Pastor

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  • Greg Thomas
    Part 2 - Remember in the original Hebrew scriptures there were no chapters and verses. It was one continuous narrative. The previous verses say that Methuselah lived 969 years, Lamech lived 777 years. Faithful people are living a long time, but so are evil people who are perpetuating more and more evil. So Genesis 6:3 may have been intended to be as God’s “promise” that after the coming flood, the human lifespan will decline in a few generations down to about 120 years maximum. Today on earth, there are about 500,000 people ( ½ million) who are 100 years old or older. Yet, the number of people who live to be 120 years old is almost unheard of. No human has lived longer than 122 years old – the age reached by a Frenchwoman, Jeanne Calment, in 1997. Noah is introduced to the story when he is 500 years old (Genesis 5:32). This may be perhaps when Shem was born. The flood came in the 600th year of Noah’s life (Genesis 7:11). That is 100 years, not 120 years. My point is that verses like these are not Fundamental Beliefs or core doctrines. They are interpretations of very ancient scripture. We are best served if we are open to other possibilities. Thanks again for your question!
  • Greg Thomas
    Thank you for your question. This verse regarding the “120 years” has always had two different interpretations. In my 50-years in the Church of God I have heard it explained various ways. Two articles offered by the United Church of God state the following: Title: Lessons From the Flood of Noah – Statement: “The Bible indicates that Noah may have preached to mankind for as much as 120 years before the Flood (Genesis 6:3). “ Title: Bible Prophecy and You, Amazing Examples of Prophecies Already Fulfilled – Statement – “Genesis 6:3 appears to mean that God announced His plan 120 years before the Flood, which would mean that Noah had 120 years to warn people.” Statements like “may have” and “appears to mean” are not very dogmatic. I know that some of our other articles are far more dogmatic about the 120 years referring to the time left on earth before the flood. So why is this? It is because there are other sound interpretations that may also be true. Some Hebrew scholars say the statement about 120 years (V3) is directly related to the verses before it. Please see part 2 as I have exceeded words allowed.
  • Greg Thomas
    Thank you, Jerry: Glad to hear you found it beneficial.
  • Greg Thomas
    Thanks Peggy: I am glad to hear you found the Sermons to be helpful!
  • Greg Thomas
    Thank you Debra: Yes, God has a wonderful plan for all humanity. He also is working out a special plan for your life right now. As Paul wrote, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10) I pray that you will have a rewarding and inspiring Passover this year.
  • Greg Thomas
    Thank you Jennifer. It was a difficult Sermon to give but I felt some things needed to be shared in the congregation. It was intended to be heard as the second part of a message given two weeks earlier entitled, "What is Mature Christian Manhood?"
  • Greg Thomas
    Hi Sarah: Thank you for allowing me to bring some levity into the start of the Sermon with your tempting offer. I was visiting the brethren in Ft Myers, FL last Sabbath and a female member told me she appreciated the sermon... but that the "men need ANOTHER one!"
  • Greg Thomas
    Hi Robert: Thank you for the kind an encouraging words. I am glad to hear that you found the topic and message helpful.
  • Greg Thomas

    Hi Nick: Appreciate your reply. Actually, there are dozens of examples but for the sake of brevity... let's just focus on the actual scripture we are discussing. Does not Peter precede the act of baptism with the statement, "repent!" How does an infant or small child understand sin, forgiveness, the need for a Savior, grace, a relationship with Jesus... etc? These are only possible with a mind that has grown in cognitive maturity.

  • Greg Thomas

    Thanks for your reply Nick: You stated, "The easy response would be “Can you prove there “would not” have been infants and toddlers?” But that gets us nowhere." Actually, if we believe what the scripture states it does get us somewhere... to the answer. In chapter 2 it states in Acts 2:5 (KJV) " And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven." The Greek word for men is "aner" which in context means an adult male, husband or someone called "sir." How else is "aner" used? How about Matthew 14:21 (NKJV) "Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men (ANER), besides women and children." So here you see that "aner" is specifically talking about adult men... not including woman and children. In Acts 2 these individuals came from all over the Roman Empire. Traveling was very long, extremely dangerous and expensive. This was a pilgrimage journey to Jerusalem. I will respond to your other comments as I get some time.

  • Greg Thomas

    Part 3 - When you state, “So when it says Children, Household or Family there would have been infants and toddlers.” Can you prove there “would” have been infants and toddlers? Do I believe that 3000 were baptized on that day, and it didn’t include children? Yes, because most people present had travelled to Jerusalem to observe the High Day of Pentecost. There were many thousands, upon thousands of adult Jews there on pilgrimage from all over the Roman Empire.

    Baptism is not about an “Age of Accountably” it is about having cognitive maturity, and being responsible enough to understand what sin is… what repentance is… what baptism means and represents…what a lifetime commitment is. To expect this of an infant or child is to demean the biblical meaning of baptism into a token ritual. Again, thank you Nick for your comments and for the scriptures to review. If you find any other scriptures in the New Testament that you believe supports infant, or child baptism please pass them on to me.

  • Greg Thomas

    Part 2 - The scripture you quote in Acts 16:15 is regarding the household of Lydia being baptized along with her. This is from the Greek word “oikos” meaning dwelling or home. It doesn’t say children, it says household. My household is composed of two adults. It may have been her servants, or parents or siblings. You are simply assuming it also included children. It does not say children, and also does not use the same Greek word we read earlier in Acts 2:38 for children which is (Greek “teknon”). The word “family” can include many variations with or without children. In the Roman Empire many family’s existed that did not have infants or children just like today in our modern world.
    The scripture in Acts 16:32 is the same as we have just discussed. Yes, the entire family of the jailer was baptized. You are implying that this would have included children. The scripture does not say children, the Greek word used does not say children, it states “family.”

  • Greg Thomas

    Thank you Nick for your comments and perspective. I appreciate you expressing your views and taking the time to respond. I would like to respond to your comments. Since there is a word limitation on each response, I may need to respond in a few separate messages.
    Your first reference in Acts 2:38 is taking the scripture out of context. The “promise” to you and your children (Greek “teknon”) is not baptism, it is the divine announcement (Greek- “epaggelia”) of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32. Notice that he does not say "this promise" but "the promise." If Peter was referring to baptism as the promise, he would have said "this promise." To imply that this scripture is encouraging baptism for children is to misapply the promise made by the prophet Joel that had just been fulfilled.

  • Greg Thomas
    Thank you for your comments Lisa! Yes, we all have an enemy that will do everything he can to diminish our joy. He knows every weak spot we have, and his goal is to create frustration in our lives. This is in contrast to Jesus Christ who stated, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
  • Greg Thomas
    Hello Danny: I am glad to hear you found the Sermon series to be helpful. Regarding recent history... I am afraid my remarks would be too biased. Having lived through the last quarter of the 20th century in the Church of God and into the 21st, I believe either more time needs to go by for a better perspective, or someone with less bias and emotion than myself do it.