Story Seven…

JJ and I will hike to Ankazotsara today. It is raining off and on so the trip will be a change from the very dry, very easy trail we have come to know in the past six weeks. Today we will teach our seventh story from Acts and then topically study baptism tomorrow morning.

The two primary teachings the people of Ankazotsara have been exposed to are from the Catholic and the Lutheran church. The Catholic church here in Madagascar teaches your typical flavor of Catholicism with a side of syncretism. The Catholic catechist teaches faith plus works save you, hopefully, and worshiping the ancestors by making blood sacrifice is totally legit. In some locations you may even find blood sacrifices being offered in the church building. The Catholic catechist told me that Judah, who is three years old, should be baptized. He said that my faith for him and the catechist’s prayer for him save Judah. God warned us false teachers would come.

The Lutheran church here in Madagascar teaches that faith plus baptism save you. A Lutheran dogma book, not a Bible, is given to the worshipers at the Lutheran church. The book teaches that belief in the tract’s teaching, not in the gospel, coupled with the effectual power of faith and the power of the baptismal water regenerate a person’s heart resulting in salvation and bring about the removal of sin. The states that the baptism water washes away sin.

Paul said in Ephesians 1:13-4,

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit…

and in Ephesians 2:8-9,

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Paul could not have said it clearer. The Catholics and Lutherans here in Madagascar could not have perverted the truth any more without it being more obvious to the masses that they are preaching a different gospel than Paul’s.

Today, we will study Peter’s fourth sermon in Acts 5:12-42. Peter does not change his message after four times. Jesus died at the hands of sin men who nailed Him to a cross. This was God’s foreordained, predetermined plan. Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin on behalf of the elect and became the final substitutionary sacrifice. His death atones for sin. He died, was buried, rose from death on the third day and appeared to many over 40 days. Hearing, believing in faith, and responding in repentance results in salvation eternal, being sealed in the Spirit.

Paul reminds us of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8,

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

The people of Akazotsara will here the gospel today. Pray for many to believe. Pray we have wisdom in moving forward to baptize those who are clear about faith alone in Jesus and that baptism is only a showing of that faith to those around them.