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  • Writer's picturePaul Cottington

Baptismal Service For Martha & Lois

Full Service

Martha's Testimony

Lois' Testimony


“So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?" Galatians 3:5

Someone once told me the story of a mistake which they had made. They had a car with a diesel engine. They always filled up with the same fuel as the very first time they had used that car. To do anything else would be ‘foolish’. One day they did something foolish. Not deliberately – it was an accident. But their intention didn’t affect the outcome. Instead of using diesel, they filled up with petrol – the wrong type of fuel! The consequence of their mistake was costly. So, what happened?

Well, nothing… to begin with! Then, a few miles down the road the engine started to misfire. A few more miles and the car got slower and slower. A few more miles and it did no more miles. They were broken down at the side of the road, unable to reach their destination.

Recently, this danger of misfuelling has increased. If we have petrol-engined vehicles, we now have the choice between E5 and E10 fuel. These fuels are mixed. As well as petrol, they contain quantities of a plant-derived alcohol called ethanol. E5 contains 5% ethanol. E10 contains 10% ethanol. The rest of that fuel is petrol. E10 costs less. But, if I have a car that can only run on E5, what will happen if I use E10, because it’s cheaper? That would be ‘foolish’. It would cost me more in the long run. It might not affect me straight away but, sooner or later, I would experience that dreaded misfire and then find myself stopped by the roadside.

This could really test who my real friends are. Imagine, I make that choice. I am in the petrol station with my E5 car and you see me take the pump for E10 fuel. This would leave you with two choices. You might think, ‘Ha, Ha, Paul is so foolish. I know what I’m going to do. I’m not going to say anything. Then I’m going to follow him on his journey and, when he is stuck at the side of the road, I’m going to drive slowly past and go ‘loser!’

Or, you could be a true friend. You could shout, ‘Paul, don’t be so foolish. If you put that fuel in your car, you won’t get to your destination.’ In that circumstance, calling me a ‘fool’ would be behaving as a friend.

The apostle Paul was a true friend to his Christian brothers and sisters. When he wrote to the believers in Galatia and said, ‘You foolish Galatians’, there was good reason. They had been given some very bad advice. Consequently, they were starting to use the wrong fuel.

The Christian life is a journey. Like all believers, these were on the Jesus Journey. The destination is heavenly – the presence of God forever. These Christians had started this journey well. They were using the correct fuel. Not E10 or E5, but JC100. 100% Jesus is what fuels our Christian life. But they now had a dilemma. People had arrived on the scene and were telling them about another fuel. In fact, they were telling them that the fuel they were currently using was substandard. ‘You need to switch to a new mixed fuel’, they said, ‘It’s called A10. The ‘A’ is a human derived fuel called Action. You need a mixture of Action and Jesus. This Action/Jesus mix is what will fuel you to heaven. Paul had seen them at the pump making the wrong choice. In fact, they had already started to fill up with this poor-quality propellant. He was shouting ‘Stop!’ And his argument is a good one. And it is relevant to what we are doing today.

Believing and being baptised go hand in hand. They should go together at the start of the Christian journey. Paul points his friends back to their ‘beginning’. He is asking them what fuel they used at the start of their Jesus Journey. ‘Was it a mixture of actions and belief in Jesus that got you right with God, and started you on the New Life Road, or was it just belief in Jesus?’

The answer was obvious. As verse 5 implies, it was indeed ‘by believing what you heard’ about Jesus – nothing else was mixed in. Paul is saying, ‘If you began this journey and have got to this point, fuelled only by JC100, then why switch?’ This new action-additive fuel isn’t better. It’s awful stuff. You start using it and you’ll soon be stalled at the side of the road unable to continue.

So, I want Lois and Martha to ask themselves a question. You are both beginning the Christian journey. You are on the New Life Road. How did you get there? Was it by your actions, by turning your life around, or by simply believing what you heard about Jesus? It was 100% Jesus.

There may be days in the future when you are tempted to think differently. This is a danger for every Christian. There are days when we review our actions and know they’ve not been anything like what they should be for someone who is a follower of Jesus. For many of us that is an everyday experience. But, then we may even start to question whether we really are Christians – whether we really have a relationship with God. We may even think, I’ll try harder tomorrow – I’ll ACT better, because then my relationship with God will be more certain and more secure. Sometimes I think like that. Thankfully, I have a friend called Paul who once wrote a letter to all his friends on that very subject. Whenever, I start to think like that, he says, ‘don’t be so ‘foolish’. It’s JC100 which you need. Not A10 or A5, or even A1. Your security with God is in Jesus alone. That is how you started this journey. That is how you must continue’.

In Acts 8, we have the account of a man from Ethiopia, who heard the message about Jesus and believed it. He was baptised and then started along this New Life Road. It says this about that man - he ‘went on his way rejoicing’.

Lois – Martha. Start as you mean to go on. Go on as you started. Trust only in Jesus. You have both believed. Be baptised today and go on your way rejoicing in Jesus.


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