Devotions

Repeating Yourself for Good Reason

The next time you watch or listen to a commercial, see how many times the announcer says the same key word over and over again.  “New”, “Bargain”, “Special”, or “Value” can show up time and time again, as well as specific brands or product names.  Marketers try to leave an impression in our minds, so that we associate good things with a company, or remember a particular name when we’re shopping at the store (or online).

While this technique is often used today to try and part people from their money, there are times when we should stop and pay attention when a word is used more than once.

My understanding is that when something is said twice in the Bible, that is done for emphasis.  So, when we learn that Jesus said, “Truly, truly”, like in the translation below, we should sit up and pay attention.

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.
John 6:47 NASB

https://bible.com/bible/100/jhn.6.47.NASB

While all of Jesus words that we have recorded are significant, the apostle John seems to have documented this extra emphasis in certain things that Jesus said (see search results at BibleGateway.com).  For one thing, this emphasis is placed on prophecies that Jesus made that happened within the lifetime of His disciples, including these:

  • One of His disciples would betray Him (John 13:21).
  • Peter would specifically disown Him (John 13:38).
  • Peter would be imprisoned at the end of his life (John 21:18).

Having historical verification that these things happened, we can be assured of the other truths that Jesus prefaced with this statement, as well as prophecies that Jesus made about the future (including those that impact us), like the following:

In addition, God has repeated other things for our benefit, knowing that we sometimes need a reminder, emphasis, or help learning a given message.  For instance,

  • As the second generation of the freed Hebrews was about to enter the Promised Land, Moses reiterated the law to them in the book of Deuteronomy.
  • There are four books recounting the life and ministry of Jesus.  Each provides a distinct perspective, and – like a super 3D camera with four lenses instead of two – the combination gives us a more complete understanding of Jesus Christ.
  • Jesus prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane before His trial and execution.  This is a good reminder to remain faithful in our prayers, and to not give up.

However, if Jesus saying things twice is significant, consider the statement at the end of the following well-known passage from the book of Isaiah:

It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
The whole earth is filled with his glory!”

Isaiah 6:1‭-‬3 NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.6.1-3.NLT

This prophecy, which will be fulfilled at the end of time, as John the apostle’s vision confirmed in Revelation 4:1-8, tells us that God isn’t just holy.  He isn’t just “really holy”, as we might expect if someone said that He was “holy, holy”.  No, God is incredibly, perfectly, and – to our minds – unfathomably holy.  He is set apart from His creation, perfect and righteous.

That is the God who loves us, who came to earth to save us, and who wants us to be part of His family, again.

 

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

11 thoughts on “Repeating Yourself for Good Reason”

  1. This is a helpful commentary on John 3:5. Your parenthesis on that verse doesn’t expand on your thinking, but I’m not certain what you mean by “baptism” in this context. Baptism is important, but I don’t believe Jesus is talking about water baptism in this context. Based on other things you have written, I am just curious about this aspect of your post. Faith plus nothing is what I read Eph. 2:8-10. I suspect you would agree. Am I correct? I don’t want to read into your parenthesis something that was not intended. 🙂 https://www.gotquestions.org/baptism-John-3-5.html

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I appreciate your thoughtful and polite feedback on a topic that many sincere followers of Jesus have wrestled with. I won’t claim to have knowledge here beyond what we can read in the Bible, so I appreciate that we can use that a common ground.

      Here’s what I hope that we can agree upon, from the scriptures:
      1. Jesus did tell Nicodemus that we must be born of water and the spirit to “enter into the kingdom of God”. Our interpretation of this specific verse may vary, and as long as we are faithful to the entirety of Scripture, that’s OK with me.
      2. Water baptism was a part of believers’ first steps (after belief, and perhaps commensurate with repentance) in the early church. In fact, as my family is going through Acts in our post-dinner Bible reading, we were just in Acts 8 yesterday, reading about Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, in Acts 8:25-40. That’s one of my favorite passages on water baptism.
      3. Baptism is not a saving work that somehow “earns” us our salvation by doing something that pays for the penalty of our sins. No arguments, there!

      Here are a few additional thoughts:
      1. The parenthetical that you brought up is indeed my interpretation of this verse, but is not entirely based on John 3:5. I hope that I wasn’t misleading in that.
      2. I thought that the GotQuestions link that you shared was insightful, and I appreciated the research into alternate interpretation of “water”, here. Regardless, as a study of just John 3:5, it brings up some good points for thought and discussion.
      3. Having studied this topic myself for many years, I am convinced that there is no simple “one-liner proof” in the scriptures that we cannot be saved if we are not baptized into water upon accepting Jesus as our Savior and Lord. (More on what I do believe, below.) Still, I believe that it is an important part of following Jesus, and where it has been willfully avoided by a believer, there are serious questions to be asked.

      Clearly, our God is gracious, and if He can redeem those who looked forward to Jesus in the centuries before His birth as a baby, as well as those on the cross, I believe that He may indeed bring those into the Kingdom of God who weren’t baptized, if that is His plan.

      Instead, my understanding of the New Testament (both instruction and examples) shapes my interpretation of John 3:5. Whether or not baptism is the sign of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection that “ushers us across the threshold of salvation” is a perhaps not the main question, though.
      I’m more interested in whether or not a new believer has surrendered to Jesus as both Lord and Savior.

      I would challenge those (not necessarily you, provided that you are aligned with the last paragraph on the page that you linked) who understand and agree that baptism is commanded, but who willfully choose to not follow it: Have you truly made Jesus the Lord of your life if you do not follow His teachings and those of His disciples? Do you love Him like John 14 and 15 describe, or are you hanging on to rebellion and retaining your own lordship over your choices?

      Said another way, I believe that the most important thing for new believers is that they trust and obey Jesus, as they make Him the Lord of their lives, including obedience to His commands. If, like Peter, we show these believers that they should “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins”, yet they do not, we may need to challenge them to have more than the dead faith of James 2? (That would be if we interpret baptism as a “work”, although I would usually interpret passages condemning works-based salvation as a contrast to the old covenant, and not necessarily the actions – like belief, repentance, confession, etc. – that are required to accept Jesus’ gift of salvation.)

      Those who are more mature in their faith – hopefully you, me, and others who follow this site – can discuss the theology more precisely.

      I’ve taken quite a bit of writing space here, because you asked a good question, and I wanted to give you a complete answer to my viewpoint. Your feedback is similarly welcome.

      Thank you, again!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It looks like we essentially agree, and your additional comments helped me appreciate your parenthetical comment. Thanks for taking the time to expand on your post. I was baptized as an infant before my parents came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. After I realized I was a sinner, repented, and became a believer, I realized obedience meant being baptized, along with many other things! So I was baptized shortly after I came to Christ. He saved me.
        I like this comment you made: “Clearly, our God is gracious, and if He can redeem those who looked forward to Jesus in the centuries before His birth as a baby, as well as those on the cross, I believe that He may indeed bring those into the Kingdom of God who weren’t baptized, if that is His plan.” When I am in doubt, I don’t dig my heels in, but submit to “if it is the Lord’s will” and “please reveal truth to me so that I can speak and live truth.”

        Liked by 2 people

  2. So important in these days to understand…Holy, Holy, Holy…”emphatic Semitic triplet” signifies the intensity of God communicating his essence of eternal Holiness. Really Really Really Important. So much so that Isaiah, God’s Prophet who at God’s bidding would pronounce blessings and woes upon nations and it happened…He immediately pronounced a woe upon himself. Dare we water down sin in the church and among believers?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for that summary – almost a sermon it itself. In this day and age, that’s an important reminder that God is neither one to be trifled with, nor someone whose words we should take lightly.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, John – perhaps because he had more time to reflect – seems to have captured the poetry and symbolism of Jesus’ ministry, even more than the other gospels. I liked the link, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. First, I have tried repeatedly to like your posts, all to no avail. SOOO frustrating!!

    I really like this article, especially for the passage in Isaiah. I’ve always loved scriptures that talk about God’s holiness. I’ve wondered whether the “holy, holy, holy” referred to in Isaiah 6:3 isn’t about one holy for each person of the Trinity. Just a thought…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like that thought. Given how often God gives us messages in different ways, I would not be surprised if the three instances of “holy” here correspond to the Trinity, as you suggested!

      Liked by 1 person

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