WHY I DID WHAT I DID ?

By Jose Anathanam

This explanation is given at the insistence of many who truly and sincerely appreciate what God has been doing through my life and ministry, for the last 25 years and because I feel that such sincere people have a right to know about my step of faith in Godís Word in 2001.

Secondly, I endeavor to explain, because I love to obey Godís word which says -

"In your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be Godís will, than for doing wrong". (1 Peter 3 : 15 - 17)

WHAT I BELIEVE ? - I

I believe in the Word of God in all its totality. I believe the Bible is Godís Word; not a religious book belonging to a particular religion.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He (Jesus) was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him (Jesus) and without Him (Jesus) was not anything made that was made. In Him (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of men. And the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father" (John 1 :1 - 4, 14)

This proves that Jesus is the Word of God manifested in the flesh and now become the life - giving spirit (1 Corinthians 15 : 45). And this Jesus, while He was on this earth, has said "The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe" (John 6 : 63 - 64)

Immediately after this many people refused to believe what Jesus had spoken. So they drew back and no longer went about with Jesus. (John 6 : 66) But Peter said to Jesus:

        "You have the words of eternal life" (John 6 : 68)

All these years I made a deliberate choice to believe what His word tells me before I chose to believe what man - made doctrines tell me. Doctrines which do not agree with the Word of God are man - made. Traditions are man - made. Even Jesus condemned the Pharisees and the scribes, condemning them by saying you are "teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. You leave the commandment of God and hold fast the tradition of men. You have a cunning way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition!" (Mark 7:7-9)

I am not condemning or criticizing anybodyís tradition or doctrines; rather, I am making a deliberate choice to obey the voice of God, coming through the Word of God, which tells me - "He who is of God hears the Word of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God. Truly, truly I say to you if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death" (John 8 : 47, 51).

I believe with all my heart that I cannot take the risk of giving more importance to man made doctrines and traditions by diluting the Word of God to agree with those who claim that the Bible was written by men; And so when interpreting, tradition has to be looked into. That was so in my life for 37 years. In those 37 years, neither the doctrines nor the traditions nor the men who claimed to have written the Bible, could make any impact on my life. My life was in sin and in darkness. I never knew Jesus so intimately, so experientially in the way I do now. Because, in those days, I gave over importance to doctrines, traditions, rituals, ceremonies, feasts and devotions, which gave no place to Jesus at all. But from the day I took the living Word of God in my hands and began to obey it, word by word, God took me into His hands and turned a shy, timid person filled with inferiority complexes, fearful of facing a crowd on stage, one who could not speak two words properly, into a person filled with boldness and courage to stand before crowds of people consisting of theologians, philosophers, nuns, priests and bishops, to proclaim before them, unashamedly without fear or compromise, the true living Word of God, which brought conviction and repentance into their hearts. If I had spoken doctrine, tradition theology or philosophy, this would not have happened. But because I have spoken the Word of God, the Holy spirit who is the author of the Bible spoke through me, as by the grace of God I have offered myself to Jesus as a donkey to be used.

During the 25 years of the ministry which God has given me, He has taken me to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west of India, to people of all types, of all cultures and traditions. What I have seen in these places with my own eyes, what I have heard from people with my own ears has given me so much of conviction about the ungodliness, wickedness and paganism among people who claim to have been baptized and call themselves Christians. Majority of them are living a life ignorant of the Word of God. This reminds me of a statement of a Bishop from America who says - "We have baptized pagans in the church. We have over sacramentalized Christians in the church, who have never heard the Gospel". Hence, I believe that one has to hear the Gospel in its totality from a person who is living exactly according to the Gospel and who then can be used by the Holy Spirit to give the message of God to others. But anyone who gives more importance to the doctrines and traditions of men rather than the written Word of God is :

                (1) grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4 : 30)
                (2) resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7 : 51)
                (3) quenching the Holy Spirit ( 1 Thessalonians 5 : 19)
                And Hence cannot be used by God to speak His message.

    WHAT I BELIEVE ? - II

I believe that both the Old and the New Testaments are Godís word. Jesus himself, so very often quoted from the Old Testament. I believe that the Old Testament is the SHADOW of things to come and the New Testament is the SUBSTANCE of all that was prophesied in the Old. So when reading the Bible we see the SHADOW in the Old Testament and live out the SUBSTANCE in the New Testament, today. With this understanding I want to explain about the Baptism which I have taken.

First, we will go to the Old Testament, in the Book of Genesis 12:1-4. Abraham is called out by God, called out from his country, called out from his kindred and from his fatherís house. Abraham originally belonged to a family that worshipped Idols (Joshua 24 : 2 - 3) Hence to respond to Godís call one has to make a separation. When God called St. Paul in the New Testament He told him that he had to be separated from his people and from the gentiles (Acts 26 : 17) Jesus, calling people to day to be His disciples demands the same (Luke 14 : 26 - 27, 33) It is the disciples of Christ who lived according to the Word of God that are called Christians (Acts 11 : 26) by God. Now coming back to the Old Testament- after Abraham had made a response to Godís call by coming out and separating himself, God sealed a covenant relationship with him with the ceremony of circumcision in Genesis 17 : 9 - 14 where it is clearly stated - "Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; HE HAS BROKEN MY COVENANT. As many generations passed, people forgot the true meaning of circumcision and they gave over importance to THE TRADITION OF THE RITUAL OF CIRCUMCISION by circumcising the male in the foreskin of their flesh which was only an outward sign. But true circumcision is circumcision of the heart. God in His anger spoke through the prophets warning them with these words:

"Behold the days are coming, when I will punish all those who are circumcised in the flesh, but yet uncircumcised in the heart" (Jeremiah 9 : 25)

Through the same prophet God spoke in these words :-

  • "Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, remove the foreskin of your HEARTS, lest my wrath go forth like fire and burn with none to quench it because of the evil of your doings" (Jeremiah 4 : 4)

  • St. Paul who was originally a Pharisee, a very religious man who held on to his traditions and doctrines, who glorified in the fact that he was circumcised, SUDDENLY receives light from God and is convinced about his folly and as a true Christian he now writes -

  • "For we are the true CIRCUMCISION, who worship God in spirit, and glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the circumcision of the flesh" (Phil. 3:3)

  • Now, when Paul went through the circumcision of the heart, he was able to worship God in spirit and in truth. Before that, he was only worshipping through his flesh consisting of his traditions and his doctrines, rituals and ceremonies, which, not only put Jesus out of his heart, but was unknowingly kicking at Jesus. Hear the Word of Jesus -

  • "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me, it hurts you to kick against the goads. I am Jesus whom you are persecuting " (Acts 26 :14-15)

  • Paul did not know that he was disobeying the Word which says -

  • "Learn not the way of the nations for the customs of the people are false " (Jeremiah 10 : 2)

  • Now in his enlightened life Saul, who became Paul advises us -

  • "See to it no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit according to HUMAN TRADITION, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, AND NOT ACCORDING TO CHRIST" (Colossians 2 : 8)

  • "Do not be tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of DOCTRINE, by the cunning of men, by their CRAFTINESS IN DECEITFUL WILES" (Ephesians 4 : 14)

  • To those who would not accept the message of the true circumcision, Stephen filled with the Holy Spirit said -

  • "You stiff - necked people, UNCIRCUMCISED IN HEART AND EARS, you always resist the Holy Spirit as Your Fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute ? You who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it" (Acts 7 : 51 - 53)

  • Hence in the Old Testament circumcision of the flesh without CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART was not only unacceptable to God, but it also brought the wrath of God. Such people were cut off from the people of God by God Himself. Since only God can look into the hearts, man cannot know who is circumcised in the heart and who is not. Man judges only by the outward sign. But that is not acceptable to God. Now let us come to the New Testament.

    In the New Testament, the God who called Abraham has manifested himself in the flesh as Jesus and gives each one of us a similar call that He gave to Abraham. That is, leave your fatherís house, leave your kindred and leave your country. Jesus says :

  • "Whoever loves father or mother MORE THAN ME is not worthy of me and whoever loves son or daughter MORE THAN ME is not worthy of me" (Mathew 10 : 37)

  • Just as in the Old Testament God was more concerned with inward circumcision rather than the outward circumcision. In the New Testament also, the same God Jesus Christ, is demanding an inward circumcision of the heart rather than an outward sign of physically leaving father and mother and relatives. Jesus is demanding first place in the hearts of His people. Nobody or anything else can take the place of Jesus in the Hearts of His people. A true, sincere, undivided, unbroken affection is needed to obey the first commandment which says -

  • "You shall love the Lord your God with ALL YOUR HEART, and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12 : 30)

  • This commandment has to be practically demonstrated to God for Him to accept a person as a BELIEVER in Christ. Only such a BELIEVER is called a disciple of Christ (John 8 : 31) Only such a BELIEVER who has become a disciple, is called a Christian by God (Acts 11 : 26) Only such a person is eligible for Baptism in water as the following verse tells us-

  • "Go therefore and MAKE DISCIPLES of all nations BAPTISING them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit" (Mathew 28 : 19)

  • Here Jesus is commanding that one should be made a BELIEVER before BAPTISM and then taught to grow into discipleship. Again in Mark 16 : 16 it is written -

  • "Go into all the world and preach THE GOSPEL to the whole creation. He who BELIEVES and is BAPTIZED will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."

  • Here again it can be clearly seen that FAITH comes before Baptism.

    HOW DOES FAITH COME ?

    Godís word gives us the answer-

  • " FAITH comes from what is HEARD, and what is HEARD comes by the PREACHING OF CHRIST " ( Roman 10 : 17 ).

  • In the Old Testament we saw that circumcision meant a change of heart which is called repentance. Without such a change of heart or circumcision of the heart, the outward physical circumcision had no value before God. It only brought the WRATH OF GOD.

    In the same way BAPTISM in the New Testament is an OUTWARD SIGN of what has happened inwardly i.e., CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART - after having received faith which only comes from hearing and hearing the PREACHING OF CHRIST (Romans 10 : 17). If the circumcision of the heart has not taken place the outward sign of BAPTISM, just remains a ritual as the Old Testament ritual of removing the foreskin of the flesh. However, there is a difference between the circumcision in the Old Testament and BAPTISM in the New Testament. When a person hears the Word of God being preached, he immediately is cut to the heart and repentance takes place in his heart (Acts 2:37-38). Faith comes to him from what is heard and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ. (Romans 10:17). This faith that he receives by listening to the Word of God, leads him to make a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ after having forsaken sin and occasions of sin and the worldly system that is NOT under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He then receives water Baptism according to the commandment of Jesus Christ in Mark 16 : 16 ; At that moment this person receives a new life. His old sinful nature IN ADAM is crucified with CHRIST JESUS. He is baptized into the death of Christ and he is buried with Jesus by baptism into death; so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the father he too might walk in the newness of life. This explanation comes to us in Romans 6:3-11. Such a person will not be a slave to sin. This is not just doctrine, but a spiritual reality in the lives of many, many people, who have had the grace to be baptized.

    When the first church began after Pentecost, they began to preach the Gospel who is Christ Jesus. That made the listeners ask the question "what shall we do?" Listen carefully to the answer of Peter.

  • "Repent and be BAPTIZED everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

  • Here again, the church preached the Gospel first; the listeners heard it, then they repented, i.e. they circumcised their hearts as is evident if one takes the trouble to read the rest of the Acts of the apostles. After the heart was circumcised, the Baptism was given.

    Now when I was eight days old somebody (whom I donít know) is supposed to have baptized me. As an eight days old child I could not :

    (1) hear the gospel being preached
    (2) I could not receive faith.
    (3) I could not circumcise my heart.
    (4) I could not make a commitment to follow Jesus Christ.

    And hence there was no repentance, there was no change of heart and I was not eligible for baptism. Those who baptized me never gave me the gospel. I never heard it from my parents, nor from my relatives, nor from my friends nor from those who are supposed to be in the Church. And so I lived a pagan life for 35 years, not once praying to Jesus Christ, who I never knew was alive. So for 35 years I only had the name of being a Christian when I was not a Christian. 25 years ago, I heard the Gospel for the first time. Ever since, faith came into my heart and I put that faith into action. I began to grow in discipleship and renewed my commitment to my Lord Jesus Christ everyday. Day by day, week after week, year after year my relationship with Jesus grew, stronger and stronger and deeper and His word in John 16:13 came to pass in my life-

  • "When the spirit of Truth comes, He will GUIDE YOU INTO ALL THE TRUTH."

  • Without me desiring, without me even realising Jesus turned this shy, timid, fearful man into a powerful preacher to proclaim His word with authority and conviction and experience, without shame or fear or compromise. Thousands and thousands of people have heard, including priests and nuns and bishops and seminarians and people of all religions. Not one of them had any doubt of the message being preached.

    Today the Lord himself gave me the conviction that I am eligible for Baptism because I have made a total surrender of my life to Him. And so I received water Baptism as the condition laid down in Mark16:16. And this is my first Baptism. I believe the earlier one was only a ritual - giving me a membership into a church that never proclaims Jesus Christ, because none of the conditions were fulfilled till yesterday, when I could be sure of myself and stand before God with confidence and say-

  • "My life belongs to you my Jesus who died for me."

  • WHAT I BELIEVE ? - III

    I believe that no one can receive the Holy Spirit unless that person makes a commitment to Jesus Christ. The conditions laid down in the Word of God to receive and be sealed with the Holy Spirit are :

    (1) A person has to hear the WORD OF TRUTH. (not the diluted word).
    (2) Which is the gospel of your salvation.
    (3) Believe in Jesus - which includes circumcision of heart i.e., an unconditional surrender to the Lordship of Jesus (Ephesians 1:13)

    Otherwise this process also becomes a ritual and one can just believe in the intellect that one has got the Holy Spirit when the Word of God does not agree with it, nor is there any sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit in oneís life, because the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit are to be manifested. Love and unity is brought about by the presence of the Holy Spirit. What I see all around is disunity, disagreement, rebellion, party spirit, hatred, resentment etc among Christians.

    Jesus Christ who is the Word Himself, did not need Baptism; but went through it to fulfill the law (Mathew 3 : 13-17) and he was baptized at the age of 30 before He began to preach the Word. He preached with power, and signs and wonders and miracles followed. This Jesus said in John 14: 12

  • "Truly, truly I say to you, He who BELIEVES in me will also do the works that I do, because I go to the Father."

  • Mark 16: 16-18 also says:

  • "The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick and they will recover."

  • It is my experience that whatever Jesus has done, He has continued to do through this surrendered vessel.

    WHAT I BELIEVE ? - IV

    It is my firm belief and my experience that God does not reveal everything from the Word of God to a person in a particular moment of time. God is infinite. He is new every morning. Those who have had the grace to come into a personal relationship with Him and have learned to recognize His voice will understand that He leads us moment by moment, deeper and deeper into the revealed truth of Godís Word. This happens only to those who continuously obey His word, uncompromisingly and without fear and doubt. To some He will reveal things faster. To others He may take sometime according to His wisdom. In my case, He took 23 years to reveal to me the necessity of Baptism for reasons known only to Him. I believe that this delay was partly due to my own fault because in the past years, I blindly chose to obey man made doctrines, all the while thinking that I was following the Word of God in all its totality. Through this attitude I was resisting the Holy Spirit in this particular area. But when I allowed myself to be fully opened to the voice of the Holy Spirit, the Lord convicted me of my failure in obeying His word with regard to Baptism. Hence I got myself baptized to obey my Masterís command. I did not do this to prove anybody wrong, to condemn anybody or to accuse anybody or to challenge anybody. I did it because my Lord Jesus told me to do it. I chose to obey God rather than men. (Acts 4:19) (Acts 5:29).

    This is my personal conviction according to the revelation I received and learning from experience as He has led me through thick and thin for the last 25 years. I am fully convinced that God has led me into this and my Lord has never made a mistake.

    I have never asked anybody to follow me and I will never do so because each one has to be led by Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. But there is a danger of many not listening to the voice of the shepherd if they have not come into a personal relationship with Jesus. Such people will end up not obeying the Masterís voice but the voice of men.

    Those who prefer to stand by the doctrine of men may not agree with me. Those who choose to obey God will certainly agree with me. And it is for the sake of such people I have written down this explanation so that there will be no confusion or misunderstanding.

    I make an open confession before my God, who can look into my heart that I hold no grudge against anybody who misunderstands me or misinterprets me.

    The grace that I have received through this Baptism fills my heart with love and forgiveness and leads me to earnestly pray as Paul prayed for his own people in Romans 10 : 1-4.

  • "Brethren, my heartís desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. For being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God and to establish their own (righteousness.) they did not submit to Godís righteousness For Christ is the end of the law, that everyone who has faith (IN CHRIST JESUS) may be justified."

  • I believe that there is a fresh move of the Holy Spirit during these last days convicting many people in denominational churches, about the necessity of Baptism and I thank God that He in His love convicted me. May His Name alone be praised and adored at all times.

    The Covenant People
    P.O. Box: 20, Kanjirapally
    Kottayam District, Kerala - India