Baptism as Taught in Scripture

Bible Baptism
By Dr. John R. Rice (1895-1980)


A favorite device of the Devil is to have men look to their works for their salvation instead of looking to Christ. He leads some to trust in their morality, some to depend upon lodge membership, some to depend upon confessions to priests; some he leads to trust in baptism. That is a fatal mistake. The unanimous voice of all the Scriptures is that people are saved by simple faith in Christ, without any act of righteousness, and baptism is never mentioned as a part of the plan of salvation. Baptism is an act of righteousness, for Jesus said in Matthew 3:15, “Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” Titus 3:5 says that such acts of righteousness do not save us:

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

Baptism is certainly a good work, but Ephesians 2:8,9 likewise says plainly that salvation is altogether a matter of God’s mercy and not of our works:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.”

Salvation is a gift of God which is not deserved, is not bought, and cannot be paid for. No church nor preacher nor the individual saved has any right to claim credit when a soul is saved.

In fact, we are told again and again in the Bible that the man who trusts in Christ has everlasting life immediately. John 3:36 says:

“He that believeth on the Son HATH everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

“Hath” means has, present tense, in modern English. Likewise, John 5:24 says:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, HATH everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation: but IS PASSED from death unto life.”

The same teaching is given in John 6:47:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me HATH everlasting life.”

In the Bible, we find it clear that people believed first and then were baptized. According to these statements from God’s Word, they were already saved before they were baptized and any other man who trusts in Christ is saved that second, before he could possibly get to the baptismal waters. It does not take baptism to save one.


In Acts 2:38, the term “for the remission of sins” is used as follows:

“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.”

Some people think that this passage contradicts the dozens of other plain statements in the Bible that a man is saved by faith and saved immediately when he believes. But when you use the word for in this passage just as it is used so many times in every-day conversation, you will see what Peter said. A man is arrested for stealing; one is grateful for a favor; one is blamed for carelessness; one is commended for bravery. The word for here does not mean in order to or to secure remission of sins, and it is not rendered that way in any translation of the Bible we know of anywhere. The Greek word eis here translated for is sometimes translated in the Bible against, among, at, unto, upon, etc. It might properly be translated here “baptized upon the remission of your sins” or “baptized referring to, or pointing toward the remission of your sins,” or “baptized in the remission of your sins.” When one repents, he receives the remission of his sins. Then the obedient heart, following Christ in baptism, is promised the gift of the Holy Ghost, an entirely separate mutter from salvation. What Peter said was that people ought to repent and then, after their sins are forgiven, they should be baptized as evidence of that. That is exactly what people ought to be baptized for, that is, to show the remission of their sins. That Scripture, then, does not mean that people ought to be baptized in order to be saved.


In Mark 16:16, believing and baptized are used together:

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

Christians are supposed to be baptized as soon as possible after they are saved. In Bible times they were usually baptized the same day, oftentimes the same hour of their conversion, even if it were midnight as in the case of the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:33. In fact, baptism is a public profession of faith. One can see baptism; one cannot see faith in the heart. It is natural to think of baptism following salvation, and Jesus said that those who believed and were baptized should be saved. He did not mean to contradict the rest of the Bible though, as you will see from the following words in the same verse, for He added. “But he that believeth not shall be damned.” That makes it clear that the matter which settles it is believing just the same as is taught in John 3:18:

“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

The above verse, John 3:18, settles it that the man who believes in Christ is not condemned, whether or not he has been baptized. It also settles that the reason a man is condemned is “because he hath not believed.” Salvation is settled by belief in Christ, and only by that.


There are so many Scriptures which plainly state again and again that the man who believes in Christ is saved, that those who teach baptism is essential to salvation cannot deny that. They try to get around these many Scriptures, however, by saying that faith includes baptism, that is, if one believes in Christ, he will be baptized, and that faith is not complete until one is baptized. However, in Mark 16:16 Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized,” showing that believing and being baptized are two different things. If believing includes baptism, then Jesus would not have added the word about baptism. If repenting includes baptism, Peter would not have said in Acts 2:38. “Repent and be baptized.” No, they are not the same and are nowhere spoken of as the same in the Bible, nor is it ever stated in the Bible that believing includes baptism, nor that if one trusts Christ, he will be baptized. “He that believeth on the Son bath everlasting life” before he is baptized. Baptism does not save.


“Born of water and of the Spirit” in John 3:5 is often quoted as if it referred to baptism. It most certainly does NOT, however. That passage says nothing about baptism, and in the same conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus repeatedly told just what it took to get this new birth. Read verses 14 to 18 and you will see that it is simply believing in Christ. “Born of water and of the Spirit” in John 3:5, is the same as “the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost” in Titus 3:5. That verse plainly says that this is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us,” by this birth of water and the Spirit, or cleansing of regeneration and being made alive by the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 5:26 tells us how Christ gave Himself for the church “that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” But this washing takes place inside. James 1:18 tells us that “of his own will begat he us with the word … ,” and I Peter 1:23 says that we are “born again … by the word of God.” These Scriptures seem to mean that when one is saved, he is inwardly washed, cleansed, led to repentance and faith, by the Word of God, and made alive, spiritually, by the Holy Spirit. That, I believe, is the plain meaning of John 3:5, “born of water and the Spirit.”

All of that happens on the inside of every sinner who is born of God. It is not on the outside, and is not baptism.

Notice the words again in John 3:5, “born of water and of the Spirit.” The second “of” is in italics, which shows that it was not in the original Greek. Jesus said one must be “born of water and the Spirit,” one birth. Jesus was only talking about one new birth, which happens on the inside. He did not say one needed to be born of the Spirit inside and of baptism outside, and did not mean so. John 3:5 does not refer to baptism.


I Peter 3:21 is used as an argument that baptism saves people. Speaking of the ark “wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water,” that passage continues:

“The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

All difficulty about this passage disappears when you take the first plain statement in the verse that this is a “figure.” The ark was a figure and picture of salvation, and the ark was certainly a type of Christ. Baptism is a “like figure” and Roman 6:5 states that it is a “likeness” of the death, and a “likeness” of the resurrection of Christ. Peter then continues that baptism does not put away the filth of the flesh, and says that it is “the answer of a good conscience toward God.” Baptism, then, is only a picture, or figure, of salvation, and the man who is baptized should already have a “good conscience.” In Hebrews 9:14 we are told how the conscience is to be purged by the blood of Christ. Then, after that conscience is purged “from dead works to serve the living God” and one has a “good conscience,” he has a right to be baptized.

One who is baptized professes to have a good conscience toward God, with his sins forgiven. If that is not true, he has no right to be baptized and baptism is a lie and an empty pretense. Baptism is only for saved people, the answer of a conscience cleansed and forgiven.


Some people have been troubled by the phrase “baptized into Christ” in Galatians 3:27, which reads:

“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

However, that is very clear if you read the verse before it and the rest of the context. Verse 26 says plainly, “For ye are all the children of God BY FAITH in Christ Jesus.” The whole book of Galatians is written to prove that people are saved not by works, but by faith.

“Baptized into Christ” should read “baptized unto Christ” and is often so translated. The same Greek word, eis, translated in our King James Version into in this particular verse, is translated in verses 23 and 24 of the same chapter, unto. It is translated unto in scores of cases, to in many others, and for in many cases.

Compare “baptized into Christ” in Galatians 3:27 and “baptized into Jesus Christ” in Romans 6:3 with a phrase just like them in I Corinthians 10:2 – “baptized unto Moses.” The word unto is a translation of the same Greek word eis as into in the other passages. If the covering of Israel in the cloud and Red Sea did not put Israel into Moses, then baptism does not, of course, put one into Christ. Rather baptism points “unto” Christ, of course.

What the Lord says here is that as many as have been baptized for Christ, or pointing toward Christ, or picturing Christ, have publicly claimed Him before the world as their Saviour. I Peter 3:21 plainly states that baptism is a figure or picture. Romans 6:5 says twice that baptism is a “likeness” of the death and resurrection of Christ and also pictures the new life which the Christians plan to live. Colossians 2:12 tells us the same thing. A person then should be baptized unto Christ, that is, for Christ and to picture the change of heart which he already has by faith in Christ. This Scripture simply bears out the many, many plain statements of the Scripture that one is saved by faith, and puts on in figure and likeness, before the world, what already God has put in the heart. God puts the light in us, we should let it shine. God works in us our salvation, and we are commanded to work it out. (Philippians 2:12,13).


Our friends who claim that baptism saves, or that one cannot be saved without baptism, sometimes quote Acts 22:16 as evidence that baptism saves:

“And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

Compare this with the Lord’s account of what happened, as given in Acts 9:17. Ananias said:

“Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.”

Remember that baptism is a figure, or picture, according to I Peter 3:21 and Romans 6:5. When Paul quoted, “Wash away thy sins,” he certainly meant to use figurative language. Baptism is a figure as the Lord has told us. Compare this language with Matthew 26:26,28 where Jesus said, “This is my body” … and “This is my blood.” Jesus certainly meant, “This represents my body and my blood.” “Be baptized, and wash away thy sins,” certainly means, be baptized to picture the washing away of your sins. That is what baptism always does picture. Paul did not mean in Acts 22:16 to teach a different plan of salvation from that one he gave the jailer in Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Nor did he mean Acts 22:16 to contradict Acts 13:39 where he told the people at Antioch, “And by him all that BELIEVE are justified from all things.” (Already saved without baptism!)

The man who depends on baptism to save him will go down in the water a dry sinner and will come up a wet sinner, but he need expect no change of heart in that water. Baptism is to picture a change of heart which happens when one trusts in Christ.


We have the record of many people in the Bible who were saved without baptism. I remind you that God has never had but one plan of salvation. In the Old Testament it was “not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). In fact, the eleventh chapter of Hebrews tells us of case after case of people in the Old Testament times who were saved by faith. Acts 10:43 makes clear that the only plan of salvation taught in the Old Testament was by faith in Christ, just as it was preached in the New Testament. There, Peter said:

“To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”

Remember, there never was any plan of salvation but by faith. Every Old Testament sacrifice and ceremony was a picture and shadow and type of the Lord Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world!”

Now, all of these Old Testament saints were saved without baptism, for there is not a word in the Old Testament about baptism and no record of a single person’s ever being baptized before John the Baptist began it. Baptism, then, is not a part of God’s plan of salvation.


Since the same plan of salvation was preached in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, and people were saved in the Old Testament without baptism, you would expect them to be saved in the New Testament without baptism, and they were. In Luke 7:37-50 is the story of a woman, a notorious sinner. Verses 47 to 50 in that seventh chapter of Luke tell us plainly that her sins were forgiven her and that her faith had saved her. Read carefully these Scriptures :

Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, ARE FORGIVEN; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

“And he said unto her, THY SINS ARE FORGIVEN”

“And he said to the woman, THY FAITH HATH SAVED THEE; go in peace.”

Jesus plainly stated that the woman was already forgiven and was already saved by faith. She knelt at the feet of Jesus, trusted Him, and went away a saved woman. She was saved without baptism.

In Luke 18:35-43 we are told about the healing and conversion of a blind man. Verse 42 tells plainly, in the words of Jesus Himself, just how he was saved:

“And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: THY FAITH HATH SAVED THEE.”

Notice that salvation was received right there before he was baptized.

That is the same plan of salvation given throughout the book of John; in John 1:12, John 3:14-18, John 3:36, John 5:24, John 6:37, and many other places. It is the same plan taught by Peter after Pentecost (Acts 10:43). It was the same plan taught by Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, (Acts 13:38,39; Acts 16:30,31; Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 3:28 and Romans 4:5-8). People were saved in the Old Testament by faith without baptism, were saved during the life of Jesus by faith without baptism, and were saved after Pentecost by faith without baptism.

That publican, about whom the Saviour has told us in Luke 18:13,14 was saved without baptism. Standing there in the temple, he prayed, saying. “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus tells us about him then, that, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified”! He was saved, then, without baptism.


The most remarkable case of this kind is the thief converted on the cross as told in Luke 23:39-43. When that poor man turned to the Lord Jesus and asked to be in His kingdom, the Lord Jesus replied, “Verily I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in paradise”! He died that day on the cross as we are told in the Scriptures and so could not have been baptized. But that day, according to the express statement of the Saviour, he went with Jesus to paradise. And some happy day, all who trust in Christ will see him there.

No, baptism is not essential to salvation.


God has just one plan of salvation. It is not a process. It is not a series of steps. People are saved by faith in Christ, that way and no other way. Everything else that God asks of a sinner in order to be saved: repentance, prayer, coming to Christ, etc., is summed up and settled when one depends upon Christ for the forgiveness of his sins. One could not turn his mind or heart toward God (repentance), without faith in Christ. You cannot come to Christ without believing on Him. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard ?,” (Rom. 10:14). Confession by the mouth simply proves faith in the heart which has already secured salvation. God has no other plan of salvation except that promised in John 3:16,18,36; John 5:24; John 6:47; Acts 16:30-31. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Baptism follows, should follow immediately, but is not a part of God’s plan of salvation. When you are baptized, be sure that fact is made clear to those who look on. If you have this salvation, this change of heart by faith in Jesus Christ, then I beg you, follow Jesus in baptism as soon as possible.

Bible Baptism (the Book)
By Dr. John R. Rice (1895-1980)

Table of Contents

There have been too many sermons on baptism as a part of the doctrines of some denomination. There is too much talk about “Baptist doctrine” or “Methodist doctrine” or “the doctrine of our church.” In this Bible study, we are interested solely in what the Bible teaches about baptism. Nothing else matters. God’s people should be baptized because God commanded it, not because some church requires it. They should be baptized a certain way, because that is the way the Bible teaches, and it should have a certain meaning, the meaning which God gave to baptism. People need to remember what the Lord says about baptism, and then do what He says, because He said so.


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Everything About Angels (With Greg Laurie)

Have you ever wondered about angels? Do we have guardian angels? What does the Bible say about angels? In this message Pastor and teacher, Greg Laurie opens the word of God and lifts the veil of secrecy surrounding angels and reveals to us who they are and what they are meant to do!

Satan is god of this world


Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 Peter 5: 8-9

On television, on radio, we welcome you, from one side of this great Southwest to the other, sharing with us these services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the message entitled Of Demons and Devils.  It is by no means a topic suggested by a current secular and religious fad, the discussion of demons and demonology brought to pass in no small part at this present moment by a movie called “The Exorcist,” which I have not seen.  But the message is the verses that follow where I left off last Sunday, preaching through the epistle of Simon Peter.

Last Sunday morning we closed at verse 7 in chapter 5.  And this morning we begin with verses 8 and 9 in that same chapter.  The reading of the text is:


Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil,

as a roaring lion, walketh about , seeking whom he may devour:

Whom resist steadfast in the faith.

 [1 Peter 5:89]

Now let us look at the words first, before we begin an exposition of the passage.  The imagery that lies back of what Simon Peter is saying is a shepherd keeping watch over his flock by night.  And in the nighttime a lion prowls and stalks and circles the flock, seeking which one of them he will devour.

And using that imagery of a shepherd guarding his flock at night, and the stalking lion picking out which one he will devour, the apostle writes two vigorous, imperative words.  In the English, each one is translated with two words: be sober, be vigilant; because your “adversary” [1 Peter 5:8].  In the way that Simon Peter wrote it, nepsategregoresate, two imperatives.  “Be sober,” nepho, not drunken, intemperate; nepsate, “be sober”; gregoresate, “awake!”  Be watchful, don’t be asleep!  Then in his [Greek] text, there is no “because,” just immediately, “your adversary diabolos,”  the devil [1 Peter 5:8].

In the Scriptures there is always just one diabolos.  There is one Satan.  There is one king-sovereign ruler over all of the demons of disease, and darkness, and despair, and ruin, and destruction.  There are many diamonioi, many “demons,” many unclean spirits, but there is one great prince and ruler over them all.  And in Scripture he is always presented as that: there is one devil, diabolos, there is one Satan.  In Hebrew, in Greek, in English it is always the same, Satan, the same word.  There is one Lucifer; there is one serpent and dragon.

In the twelfth chapter of the Book of The Revelation, in one verse he is called “the dragon, the serpent, Satan, and the Devil” [Revelation 12:9].  There is just one, and he is the sovereign ruler over all of the kingdom of darkness.  Nepsate, gregoresate, diabolos; “as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking” – whom?  Seeking “which one,” tina: “which one he may devour” [1 Peter 5:8], katapinō, gulp down – literally “gulp down”; swallow down.  “Whom anthistēmi,” and the medical profession has made us acquainted with that word: histēmi means “to stand” or to place; anti, is against.  “Whom stand against”; place yourself against, “steadfast” [1 Peter 5:9].  And here is another word that these kids all know, “stereo”  – the word here, stereo; stereos is the Greek word meaning, “firm, steadfast.”  I presume they use it in the stereophonic musical world to describe the firmness of the music; it is all there, you can hear it all.  It is the word here – anthistēmi, “stand against him,” face against him, stereoi, “steadfast, firm.”  How?  “In the faith!” [1 Peter 5:9].   Now this is what Simon Peter wrote.

There is a mystery of iniquity into which the human mind cannot enter.  Paul, in the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians, used that expression, “the mystery of iniquity” [2 Thessalonians 2:7].  It is hidden in the heart of God.  We cannot understand evil in the world or in the human heart.  In the tenth chapter of the Apocalypse, in the seventh verse, the apostle John by inspiration says that when the seventh angel sounds, in his day, the mystery of God shall be finished [Revelation 10:7].

Why God allows Satan, and evil, and darkness in His universe is unknown to us.   Why does not the Lord, by the sweep of His hand or by the fiat word of His voice, destroy all evil, why?  We do not know.  It is called in the Scriptures, the mustērion, the secret of evil, which to us is not revealed.  But what we do know, both in Scripture and in life, are for us to understand.  So we speak of this diabolos, who as a roaring lion, circles the flock of God, seeking which one he will seek to destroy [1 Peter 5:8].

First, the beauty of his person: in the twenty-eighth chapter of Ezekiel, in the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah, Lucifer is described; “the son of the morning” [Isaiah 14:12].  He is called “perfect in beauty” [Ezekiel 28:12].  I have never seen a “perfect” anything; everything in this world has in it some measure of imperfection.  He is called “perfect in beauty.”  He is covered, and he walks, and his garments are the iridescent light of the gems of diamond, and sapphire, of jasper, of pearl, of gold [Ezekiel 28:13].  In the second Corinthian letter, the [fourteenth] verse and the [eleventh chapter], the apostle Paul refers to him as “the angel of light” [2 Corinthians 11:14], the brightness of the meridian sun.

In medieval days, all through Europe there were presented by the church miracle plays.  They were the precursors of Shakespeare and all of the dramatic presentations the modern world knows.  In those miracle plays Satan was always presented in one way: he was a devil with horns, with tail, with hooves, with a red coat, and with a pitchfork.  It is manifestly a caricature, and it may please Satan that in the imagery of the world, he is a devil like that.  Actually, he is the opposite of that! Satan is beautiful, and alluring, and powerful beyond anything that a human mind could imagine.

If I could, by illustration, try to enter into somewhat of what Satan is like, it would be like this: in the days of the Second World War, I remember beautiful women, whose pictures would be on the front pages of the newspaper.  It would be a beautiful and alluring woman who was in the pay and in the hire of the enemy.  And they would persuade her and buy her to seduce a general, or a great representative of government, and finding secrets from us, would deliver them to the enemy.  That is Satan: beautiful, alluring, seductive; but treacherous and traitorous in the extreme.

If I could find an example of what Satan is really like, I would say you would find him in the mind, and the voice, and the prestige, of a brilliant and gifted theological professor.  He speaks in learnedness and in eloquence, but he denies the faith.  He empties Scripture of its inspiration.  He takes away deity from Christ, makes Him just another man, and robs the church of all of its hope of a consummating and glorious tomorrow.  That is Satan!

If I could pick out Satan as he really is, I would picture him as a great, popular leader of government.  And he comes forth as the champion of the people and rather than face the harsh realities and the stubborn facts of economic life, he soothes the people into the persuasion that he is their great benefactor and patron, and he looks at the printing press making money; thousands of dollars, millions of dollars.  And he gives order through the instruments of government for deficit financing, and the presses – it is that simple – and they print money, and print money, and the government goes in debt and what finally happens is: it’s a painless way to rob the poor, and to destroy the pensioner, and finally to bring the country into economic collapse and chaos.  That is Satan!  Smart, shrewd, deceptive; but beyond his soft and mellifluous voice there is destruction and ruin.  That is Satan.

Here in the gutter is a drunken bum in his vomit; that isn’t Satan.  That’s one of his minions who has destroyed a human life, plunged it into despair and ruin.  Satan is somewhere in a plush office, presiding over an empire – thinking up ways and means and approaches to allure our young people and to destroy their lives both inwardly and on highways, where they’re killed by the thousands and the thousands every year.  That genius at the top, presiding over the great corporations, that is Satan!  Beautiful, amenable, courteous, alluring, interesting, acceptable, but treacherous!  Deceptive in the extreme: that is Satan.

I speak of the extent of his power.  It is hard for us to enter into the vast, vast unimaginable control he has of God’s universe – the mystery of evil.  In the Book of Jude, the apostle writes that “Even Michael the archangel, when disputing with diabolos – Satan – about the body of Moses, he durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” [Jude 1:9].  Even Michael the archangel dare not cross Lucifer.  In the twelfth chapter the Book of the Revelation: “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, against Satan and his angels” [Revelation 12:7].

His illimitable power: he is king over the fallen angels.  In the twelfth chapter of the Revelation, one third – one third of all of the angels of God fell in rebellion with Satan [Revelation 12:4].  I remember one time speaking of that in this pulpit.  And when we think of that, and wonder how it is that the angels of God turned aside from the Lord and followed Satan – why do you do it?  Why do you do it?  For Satan is alluring; he’s deceptive, he’s interesting.  And he places his wares in beautiful order and asks you to buy them, and we do!  What the angels do we do, and do all the time.  One third of them left their first estate and followed Satan, rebelling against God, refusing the mandates and disciplines of the Lord God.  And the king over that fallen, angelic host called “demons” in the Bible, the king is Satan.

In the ninth chapter of the Book of The Revelation he is called their king, and he’s given two other names there, in Hebrew Abaddon, in Greek Apollyon; and in either instance, the word means the same thing: it means ruin and destruction and death [Revelation 9:11].  He’s the king over all of the fallen hosts of the dark and evil world, in heaven and in earth.  He is also the sovereign ruler over fallen men, men who reject God.  If a man will not accept God, the true God, and worship the true God, he will accept the devil and worship him.  Because a man’s made that way – he will worship something, he will follow something, he will give his life to something – he is interested in something, and whatever we are interested in, whatever we give our lives to other than the true God, is idolatrous.  It is sin; it is Satan, it is satanic.

And finally, in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew and the forty-first verse, Satan controls the man completely and he is sent away into the fire, prepared for the devil and his angels [Matthew 25:41].  That is Satan!  Satan is called, in the [fourth] chapter of 2 Corinthians, Satan is called “the god of this world” [2 Corinthians 4:4].  Isn’t that an astonishing thing?  There is a kingdom in this world, and it is presided over by his satanic majesty, the king: Apollyon, Abaddon.

I was eating dinner with Dr. Black in Istanbul, the president of Robert College, a Presbyterian college in Istanbul.  He had married a Bulgarian and was in Bulgaria when the communists took it over.  And he said to me, “You cannot realize the strength and the power of those communists over their people.”  He said, “Children will turn informer against their parents when they know that what they report will mean the death of their fathers and their mothers.  But children will inform against their own parents; seeing them die, executed, put to death!”  Then he added to me a word I’ll never forget.  He said, “There is a kingdom of darkness in this world, presided over by a king, just as there is a kingdom of light in this world presided over by Jesus Christ.”  And he said, “The kingdom of atheism, of communism, of totalitarianism is an expression of the kingdom of Satan; and its king is diabolos, the devil.”

There is a god in this world [2 Corinthians 4:4] and we see him in his illimitable power in his command of the elements and of disease.  It was Satan who destroyed God’s first creation.  It was Satan who destroyed God’s recreation and made the animal kingdom vicious and carnivorous, and made men full of murderous thoughts – wars and bloodshed – and uses the elements of nature to destroy the man that he hates.

For example, there came upon a day to Job, a messenger saying “The Sabeans and the Chaldeans have come and they have taken away the flocks and the herds and they have slain the servants.”  And while he was speaking there came another messenger and saying, “And fire from the heavens came down and burned up the sheep” [Job 1:13-17].  And while he was speaking, there came another saying, “And there is a mighty wind that came out of the wilderness that over turned the house and crushed all the of your children” [Job 1:18-19].  And finally, Job himself was struck with a loathsome disease and “sat in the ash heap” [Job 2:7-8].  Who did that?  Who does that?  Who raises up murderers who dip their hands in human blood, who are guilty of violence?  Who does that?  Who sent lightning out of the sky to burn up the flocks?  Who sent the wind to crush the children?  And who afflicted Job with a loathsome disease?  Under the permissive will of God, Satan did it.  He did it.

In the [thirteenth] chapter of the Book of Luke, there is a woman bound down with that infirmity.  Eighteen years she could not lift herself [Luke 13:11], and the Lord Jesus said, “Satan has bound her down” [Luke 13:16]. In the twelfth chapter of the second Corinthian letter, the apostle Paul says, “I have a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me” [2 Corinthians 12:7].  All of these violences that you see in the world – the turbulence of nature, the stress of the wind and the storm, and the disease that afflicts us – all of that was not intended by God, it’s Satan!  Satan is an interloper; he is an intruder.  God never intended that, that’s Satan!

And I speak of his power over the human heart and over the human mind, and the facility with which he enters us.  It is almost unthinkable how easy it is for Satan to get into the human mind and into the human heart.  In a thousand ways and in a thousand forms, does he enter.  Day and night, circling, seeking whom he may devour, and his ways are so innocuous and so deceptive.

I was in a meeting one time as a little boy, and the evangelist called up a great big powerful man and set him in a chair right there on the platform.  And he took a string and he put it around the man seated in the chair, and he said, “Break it.”  And the man just broke it.  He took the string and put two or three strands around him and said, “Break it.”  And the man broke it just like that.  And while the big strong man sat in the chair, the man took that string and he wrapped it around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around, and around the man, and then he said, “Break it!”  And that big strong man did all in his power to strain against that and failed; he was bound.  That is Satan; you didn’t know it, you didn’t realize it.

There was a man, and a pig was following him.  And the man was dropping beans, and the pig was following along, eating those beans as the man dropped them.  And a fellow watching said, “Where are you taking the pig?”  And the man replied, “To the slaughterhouse.”  That’s Satan.  And how easily he conquers us, a little at a time; a little here, a little there, a little push there, a little suggestion yonder, and finally we don’t recognize ourselves.  We are somebody else.  That is the deceptiveness of Satan.

How do I war against him?  Anthistēmi – resist, face him stereoi – steadfastly! [1 Peter 5:9].  But how, Lord?  However a man may find strength in himself to oppose, he is no match for Satan.  Satan is too deceptive, and too smart, and too shrewd, and too strong for flesh and blood.  We are no match; we lose the battle before we begin.  How does a man stand to face Satan?  You do it in God, in the faith [1 Peter 5:9].

Let me show you in just a moment:


When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh throughout dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.

Then he sayeth, I will return into my home from whence I went out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.

Then goeth he, and taketh unto himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there in that man: and his last state is worse than the first.

[Matthew 12:43-45]


What is that that the Lord has said here in the twelfth chapter of Matthew?  It is a very simple thing, and it is one that all of us have experienced.  Here is a man that has an unclean spirit.  Now you just name anything of a thousand things: drunkenness, cursing, lying, stealing, whoremongering – vile, whatever it is.  And so he says, “I’m going to reform.  I’m going to thrust that evil spirit out of me, I’m not,” and then just name it.  “I’m not going to whoremonger any more, I’m not going to lie anymore; I’m not going to get drunk anymore; I’m not going to embezzle anymore; I’m not going to steal any more; I’m not going to,” whatever it is, “I’m going to live a new life.  I’m going to be a new man; I’m good going to walk straight.”  So he thrusts that spirit of uncleanness out of him.  And then the days pass, and that spirit comes back and looks on the inside of that man’s heart.  It is empty!  It is empty; it is swept, and clean, and garnished.  He’s really fine, he’s walking straight.  He’s really reformed, but his heart is empty, though it’s swept, and clean, and garnished.  And that spirit sees the emptiness on the inside of that man’s heart, and he goes out and he finds seven other spirits worse than himself, and comes back in that man; and what he once was, so he is ten times, seven times worse than even that [Matthew 12:43-45].  For not only does he get drunk now, but he curses, and he lies, and he’s filthy, and he has descended into the gutter.

What’s the matter?  Why, it is very evident what’s the matter: the man’s heart is empty, though it is clean, and swept, and garnished.  For you see, a man can’t live without something in his heart; he has to give himself to something.  He can’t help being that way, he’s created like that.  And if a man’s heart is empty, then you’ll find him giving himself to false pride, vain ambition, money, covetousness, pleasure, indulgence, a thousand things – they come and live in that man’s heart.  What does the man need?  He needs what Simon Peter wrote there, when he says, anthistēmistereo, “face the devil firmly.”  How, Lord?  In the faith; letting Jesus, letting God come into your heart.  He dwells in our heart by faith [1 Peter 5:9].  There is another spirit in your heart, it is the Spirit of Jesus; it is the Spirit of God [1 Corinthians 6:19].  And when a man has the Spirit of Jesus in his heart and the Spirit of God in him, when a man is born again [John 3:7-18], and he’s got the Lord in his soul, that evil spirit has no place.  He can’t dwell there.  He can’t.

The spirit of evil, of covetousness, of drunkenness, of lying, of debauchery, of whoremongering, of a thousand other things that are vile and bad; when they come into the Christians heart, brother, you got to fight!  You’ve got to resist it – you’ve got to anthistēmi – you’ve got a confrontation!  And the Spirit of Jesus won’t let an evil spirit stay in the heart.  There’s no room for him, he can’t get in because God is there, and that is the triumphant life.

The Christian doesn’t lose the battle; never.  He may be in a fray, and he may be in a war, and he may look for a while that he is down; never, never!  God never lost a battle; never.  And He is not going to lose it with you.  All that my soul needs is Jesus, that’s enough.  And when I have Him in my heart, He sanctifies and hallows every desire and ambition of my soul.  He makes life beautiful, blessed, holy, heavenly, helpful, encouraging, triumphant, victorious, and finally He delivers us before the presence of the great Glory without spot or blemish [Ephesians 5:27Jude 1:24].  That is the greater King and the greater Power and the greater Spirit; even the Spirit of Jesus.

In a moment now we sing our hymn of appeal.  And while we sing it, to open your heart to the Lord, to give your life to the blessed Savior, to come into the fellowship of this church, as the Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, make the decision now.  And in a moment when we stand up to sing, stand up coming, down one of these stairways, walking down this aisle, “Pastor, today I decide for God and here I am, here I come.”  Or, “I am putting my life in the circle and circumference of this dear congregation, and I am here, right here.  Here I am, pastor, here.  See?  There is my hand.  I have given my heart to God.  I have opened my soul heavenward and I am coming.”  On the first note of the first stanza, do it now, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.

Dr. Jack Van Impe in Heaven at 89

The beloved Dr. Jack Van Impe was welcomed into Heaven by His blessed Savior and Lord who he had so faithfully served in ministry for over 70 years.

Please pray for his beloved wife and lifelong ministry partner Rexella and their families as they grieve this immense loss and for wisdom as she and the Board lead the ministry in the days ahead.

Further details about Dr. Van Impe’s homecoming celebration will be published later.

Jack Van Impe Dead: Popular End Times Televangelist Dies at 89. Dr. Van Impe probably conducted more revivals and city-wide campaigns than any other evangelist. He memorized most of the New Testament and lots of the Old. He was a popular TV Evangelist and commentator along with his faithful wife, Rexella. I knew Dr. Van Impe personally and respected his biblical preaching. He spoke in several big conferences with Dr. John R. Rice. He believed in the Second Coming of Christ and his main theme of Bible preaching featured that belief. All of his sermons were laced with many quotes from the Bible. Dr. Van Impe was a godly man who loved his Savior. He devoted most of his ministry time in the last 15 years or so with his dynamic TV ministry reaching millions with the Gospel.