QUESTION: "Mr. Armstrong constantly says the way of the world is the way of get, and the way of God is the way of give. He says the definition of love is outgoing concern. Christ said to love yourself (Luke 10:27). Here is the question: Can a person have outgoing concern for himself?"
Sparta, North Carolina
ANSWER: The Greek word used in Luke 10:27 is agape. The best Greek-English lexicons define its meaning as simply "love." It is used most often of the kind of love that is expressed toward God and neighbor. Thus it is basically an outgoing concern. Self-love — respect and affection for the self — is universally practiced by all of us. As Paul put it: "No man ever yet hated his own flesh" (Eph. 5:29).
Christ was merely teaching that the way to express love toward others was to consider first how one treats the self. Do we deliberately cause ourselves pain and suffering? Do we drink poison or eat ground glass in a balanced state of mind? Do we not feed the self, pamper the self, entertain the self, keep the self warm and clothed? If we cut ourselves do we not take steps to stop the bleeding and ease the pain?
We do all of these things by nature. Those who love others will be willing also to do the same for their neighbors. We should try to make others feel as comfortable, loved and cared for as we make ourselves feel.
We should sense the same needs in others that we find in ourselves — and seek to fill them. This is loving others as we love ourselves!
Q: "In your article 'You Need God's Holy Spirit,' you claim there are two baptisms. How do you reconcile this with Ephesians 4:5?"
A: The Bible does definitely and technically refer to plural baptisms. Note that Hebrews 6:2 mentions "... the doctrine of baptisms [plural] ...."
Also, Matthew 3:11 describes two different baptisms or immersions that a Christian must experience: "I indeed baptize you with water [that's one] unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit [a second baptism], and with fire [a third type]."
The last two baptisms John the Baptist referred to are not in water. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is explained in I Corinthians 12:13. "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." The baptism of fire refers to the final punishment of the incorrigibly wicked.
Now how do these biblical facts reconcile with Ephesians 4:5? Begin with verse 4: "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism."
What is perhaps primarily meant here is that there is only one valid, authorized form of water baptism — not dozens of different modes or methods. Today there is everything from dry cleaning to sprinkling to pouring. But true water baptism is by total immersion in water followed by the laying on of hands.
Also there is another way to view this apparent enigma. The beginning steps to conversion are repentance, followed by water baptism, the laying on of hands and the receipt of God's Spirit. All of these steps together — the initial ones in the whole salvation process — may be viewed collectively as the one baptism into the true Church.
Technically, as shown by other scriptures, this whole process is broken down into more finite parts — including two different baptisms for the real Christian who endures to the end — and another for the unrepentant, incorrigible sinner.
Additional information on this subject may be obtained by reading our free booklets entitled What Is a Real Christian?, Just What Do You Mean...Conversion? and All About Water Baptism.
Q: "Could you straighten me out on this point? Since there is only one true Church set up by Jesus during His ministry, what is the meaning of Revelation 1:20?"
A: The essential meaning of Revelation 1:20 is, first of all, a biblical definition of the symbolic seven stars and seven golden candlesticks (meaning angels and churches respectively). The fact that seven churches (plural) are mentioned in no way means that God's Church is divided. "There is one body [the Church, Eph. 1:22-23]... one faith..." (Eph. 4:4-5).
Revelation was originally written to be circulated among seven local congregations (plural in number — churches) of the Church of God in Asia Minor (Rev. 1:4). Although separated geographically, these seven churches were all groups of the one true Church which Jesus founded (Matt. 16:18). (Read our free booklet entitled Where Is God's True Church Today?)