Death Meme explains little

 

Somethings missing

 

You’ve likely seen this pic before, the explanation of death. On the surface, it’s an exceptional description. That is, if you’re a Christian. As Christians, we are so much more aware of the other side than a dog. The Word of God tells us so…

There’s a home awaiting us;

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. [John 14:2]

We’ll be with God;

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. [John 14:3]

It will last forever;

Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. [Jude 1:21]

The word also tells us what is on the other side IF YOU’RE NOT A CHRISTIAN

There’s a home awaiting you;

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: [Mat 25:42]

You’ll be withOUT God;

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; [2 Thessalonians 1:8-9]

It will last forever;

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. [Revelation 20:15]

So you see, If you’re IN CHRIST then this little story paints a wonderful picture, but if not, this story gives you a false sense of hope.

The last line is most troubling, for it teaches an idea of “salvation by faith only”. It says, “I know my Master is there, and that’s enough.” No friend, it’s not enough to just know that God is in Heaven. Hear the words of Scripture on this matter…

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? [James 2:19-20]

The text goes on to reveal the only passage in the entirety of scripture that say, “by faith only”. As you read James 2:24, take careful note of the word preceding that oft used phrase…

You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. [James 2:24]

So you see then, as Christians, we are looking forward to being with our Master just as the story depicts, but it’s not a blind faith.

Many folks claim to be a Christian, but this claim is often based on dumb little facebook pics such as this one. Truly a blind faith, a faith based only on desire and not according to knowledge.

HOW TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN

To become a child of God, and avoid the eternal flame, one must obey the Gospel [2Thess 1:8]. So here’s a pic worthy of our attention. [Click here for more] [click here]

obey the gospel

Shocking truth what Bible says about Salvation by Faith alone

THE GREATEST CONFUSION in Christendom is the question, “What saves us?” Though we differ in other areas, knowing this one point is of utmost importance. If we get this one wrong, all the rest is just pointless.

To answer this question, an appeal to Scripture should be made. Since it is the word that shall judge us, let us search the scriptures to learn what is so. [Acts 17:11]

He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” [Joh 12:48]

The groups in Borger Texas, that teach a salvation by faith alone are: First Baptist church, Grace Fellowship, Faith covenant, First united Methodist, Keeler Baptist, Calvary Baptist, Gateway Baptist, Southside Baptist, Cornerstone church, Wesley United Methodist, Fairlanes Baptist, First Presbyterian, Fellowship Baptist, St. Andrews united Methodist, Borger Word of Life, Good Shepherd Lutheran, perhaps others.

A Side by side comparison Of Salvation by faith Alone & Water Baptism

Scripture Faith Only crowd Franklin St. church of Christ
Hearing Romans 10:17 Y Y
Faith Galatians 3:24 Y Y
Grace Ephesians 2:8 Y Y
Believe Acts 16:31 Y Y
Hope Romans 8:24 Y Y
God 1Timothy 2:3 Y Y
Jesus Matthew 1:21 Y Y
Holy Spirit Titus 3:5 Y Y
Gospel Romans 1:16 Y Y
Blood of Christ Romans 5:9 Y Y
Confession 1John 4:2 N Y
Repentance Acts 11:18 N Y
Obedience 2Thess 1:8 N Y
Baptism Mt 28:19; Mrk 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16 N Y
Works James 2:24 N Y
Continuing Faith 2Timothy 3:14-17 N Y

Here is the question that must be answered by those professing a salvation by faith only…

Why are you ignoring the rest of the scriptures?

Can you find your church in the Bible?

Since we’ve listed most of the churches in Borger, let’s take a moment and learn what Jesus named His church. He said, “I will build MY church.” (emphasis mine) [Matthew 16:18]. In architecture, the builder gets to do the naming.

JESUS IS;

BUILDER Matthew 16:18
FOUNDATION 1 Corinthians 3:10b-11
CORNERSTONE Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11; Ephesians 2:20
PURCHASER Acts 20:28

Since Jesus is the BUILDER, FOUNDATION, CORNERSTONE, & PURCHASER, which of the below names harmonizes all of these scriptures?

Names of the church in the New Testament Churches by name in the Scriptures:

My (Jesus) church Matthew 16:18
Church of the Lord, church of God Acts 20:28; 1Corinthians 1:2
The body, The church Colossians 1:18; Eph 1:22-23; 5:23; 1Thess 1:1
Household of God, church of the living God Ephesians 2:19; 1Timothy 3:15
Church of the Firstborn Hebrews 12:23
God’s field, God’s building 1Corinthians 3:9
The Flock 1Peter 5:3; Acts 20:28
Church of Christ Romans 16:16

It seems to me that the most harmonious name of the organization that Jesus purchased, built and DIED FOR is the church of Christ.

We are living stones: The Bible goes on to teach that Christians are the living stones of the church. [1Co 3:9-11; 1Peter 2:5; Colossians 2:7; Eph 2:20-22; 1Cor 6:19]

If you would like to learn more, click here.

Salvation by Faith ALONE?

If we’re saved by faith alone, as so many denominational pastors teach, then how do you explain all of these verses?

Christ’s words (John 6:63). “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
The Holy Spirit (John 16:8; Titus 3:5). …renewing of the Holy Spirit
Faith (Romans 10:10). For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Repentance (Luke 13:3; 2 Peter 3:9). “...except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
Baptism (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Titus 3:5). “…baptism does also now save us.”
God (John 3:16; Titus 2:11). “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,”
Christ’s works (John 20:30–31).”And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
Calling on His name (Acts 2:21). “And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.’ (cr. Acts 22:16)
Christ’s name (Acts 4:12). “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Christ’s resurrection (Romans 4:25). “who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”
Christ’s death (Romans 5:6). “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
Hope (Romans 8:24). “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?”
Confession of faith (Romans 10:10). “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Hearing (Romans 10:15–17). “And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Preaching (1 Corinthians 1:18). “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Fire (1 Corinthians 3:15). “If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
The gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1–2). “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.”
Love (Galatians 5:6). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”
Grace (Ephesians 2:8). “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,”
Ourselves (Philippians 2:12). “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”
The love of the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10). “and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
Christ (1 Timothy 1:15). “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
Heeding and continuing in the doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16). “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”
God’s mercy (Titus 3:5). “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us,”
Obedience (Hebrews 5:9). “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,” (cr. 2Thess 1:8)
Christ’s blood (Hebrews 9:14). “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Works of faith (James 2:24). “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”

The question is not, “which one saves”, rather, “why have they ignored so many verses?

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation? Hebrews 2:3

SHALL WE ADD TO OR TAKE AWAY FROM GOD’S WORD?

Deut 4:2 “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Deut 12:32 “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.

Proverbs 30:6 Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.

Revelation 22:18-19 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

 

Evangelism Depression

“It must be really depressing to be an evangelist, for very few people really care about the word of God.” Daniel S.

My good friend, a new convert, spoke those words to me after spending the first year after his conversion trying to spread the good news. Yes, it is depressing. Paul was depressed after sending his letter to the Corinthian church.

2Co 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.

He was filled with anguish because he was concerned for the church at Corinth. Would they repent, would they leave, would they take others with them in their disobedience. I can only imagine. But Paul did send the letter, and something great happened.

2Co 7:7 And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more. 8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. 9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

You see, any of us who spread the message of the Gospel or seek to help a brother or sister in sin, whether we be paid laborers in the Gospel or Christians desiring to do the right thing, are often full of sorrow for those who reject God’s word. We often take it personally, but we need to remember, they haven’t rejected me, they’ve rejected God. 1Sam 8:7

That is why an evangelist, anyone really, needs to have their joy contained in another place other than people. For if we seek to just make other folks happy, then we’ve failed. Ga 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Mt 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

My invitation to all of you who desire to be a part of an evangelistic church, be warned. It’s sad, difficult and full of pain. But then, someone responds to the Gospel. Our children, our friends or people we meet. We rejoice, not because of what we have done, no, we rejoice with the angels in heaven for one sinner that repents.

Lu 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

IGNORANCE, INTENT AND EMAILS

(this article may reference current events but is in no way a commentary on political views by the author as it relates to these events)

Confidential emails have been in the news of late. The jist of which is that a certain, high level, government employee, mishandled classified communication within the government. The FBI investigated and found unsecured & unguarded servers (the device where electronic mail would be stored and sent), “extremely careless” handling of email by this employee and her staff, and poor judgement on the part of this high level employee in the handling of Top Secret communication. The FBI then said, “We did not find…clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information.”

It’s on this last point that this article shall address as it relates sin, salvation and getting into heaven.

Under human laws, intent plays a major role. For example, if a person was negligent in their behavior, they may or may not be prosecuted. In recent cases of accidental harm to a person involving a vehicle, intent becomes the deciding factor. God spoke about these situations and gave instructions under the Law of Moses for unintentional harm. “as when a man goes to the woods with his neighbor to cut timber, and his hand swings a stroke with the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies-he shall flee to one of these cities and live; [Deuteronomy 19:5] and in some cases were required to pay restitution.

Intent may be a factor, but ignorance of the law is another matter. Under our law system, Ignorantia juris non excusat (Latin for “ignorance of the law excuses not”) is a legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because he or she was unaware of its content. There are plenty of examples where a person is fined or punished having been unaware that they were committing a crime. If you doubt this, the next time you’re pulled over for speeding just tell the officer you didn’t know the speed limit.

For humanity, God leaves everyone without excuse whether they’ve read the Bible or not.

Look at Roman 1:18-21; “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” [emphasis mine]

You see, God has made every effort to show himself to every person and it’s their willful disregard for Him that will earns His wrath.

In another place, regarding ignorance, Paul said, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” [Acts 17:30-31]

Peter also taught that we are not to remain in our ignorance but to obey; “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” [1Peter 1:13-16]

Here’s the point of what I am saying, when we face the judgement of God, saying “I didn’t know” or “I didn’t intend to sin” will not open the gates of heaven unto us. The only way that we can survive the judgement and to receive an entry into heaven is through the saving blood of Jesus the Christ.

How can one be saved?

Now that you’ve heard about God’s wrath and salvation through Jesus, Repent and be converted from your ignorance. “Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,” [Acts 3:17-19]

After your repentance, their remains the blotting (washing) away of your sins. “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” [Acts 22:16] “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.” [Acts 2:38]

If you do this, you will be saved, but this doesn’t give you liberty to keep on sinning. Therefore, the Christian must remain faithful. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” [Romans 6:1-4] And if we sin, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” [1John 2:1]

Though human courts overlook ignorance, God won’t. Why delay?

What if we could end sin?

SUPPOSE THAT we could convince everyone in the world to quit sinning.  What would we have accomplished?

It would appear at first glance that we would have made the world a much better place, but have we really done anything?

Let’s say we could convince all the world to quit drunkenness, yet they still don’t have Christ, we have done very little. Though repentance is a part of the gospel plan of salvation [Luke 13:3], it alone will not save you. Just as faith alone will never save you.

Pick a sin, whatever bothers you most, that you would end instantly. If folks repented of these sin on their own initiative, or through sound reasoning on your part, but they have not Christ you have done nothing.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” [1Corinthians 15:22]. We are made alive when we are “in Christ”, and according to the scriptures we get into Christ through obeying the gospel.

Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” This is the only way a person can get into Christ. The preposition into indicates a change of relationship. You can search from the front to the back of your Bible, and you will find no other way to get into Christ except by being baptized into Christ. Also Romans 6:3 says the same thing, “Or do you not know, that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” So the only way we can get into Christ is to be baptized into Christ. Either a person has been baptized into Christ, or he is still outside of Christ. We are either in or we are out. Have you been baptized into Christ in order to be saved and have your sins forgiven?  If you haven’t been, then no amount of good works can save you. [Ephesians 2:8-9].

SEEK YE FIRST…

Nowhere in this article am I saying that a person can continue in sin. Paul, in his letter to the Romans said such, [Romans 6:1-3]. It is sin that has separated us from God. “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that he will not hear” [Isaiah 59:2]. What I am saying is that we need to approach evangelism from the top down.

All too often we find ourselves in discussions with the world about some particular sin. The discussion usually degrades into a debate, then into an argument until finally they will say, “We just have to agree to disagree.” If, on the other hand, you do convince them that a particular thing is wrong and they change, all you’ve really done is made them a better person, or a better Baptist or a better Lutheran, but you have NOT made them a Christian. If they repent of all of their sins, they still fall short of being “IN CHRIST” just as all who believe that “FAITH ONLY” is all that is necessary unto salvation.

TOP DOWN EVANGELISM

I’ve come to the realization that when a person is truly convicted in their heart that Jesus is the Christ, just as they were at Pentecost [Acts 2:37], then they will do whatever it takes to become a Christian. Until then, it’s nearly impossible to get a person to repent of anything, much less the popular sins of our culture.

It’s for this reason that I have in mind to divert every topic of conversation, with those outside of Christ, to the topic of the Authority of Christ and His plan of salvation. This is what Philip did with the Ethiopian Eunuch on the road. “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” [Acts 8:35, 36]. This is why the Eunuch asked, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me from being baptized?”

When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?”, Jesus said to them, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” [Matthew 22:36, 37]. This is a true statement, for our Lord said it. Before we can truly obey any command of God, we must first embrace and obey this one. If we can convince the whole world about this command, THEN we have truly done something.

What if We’re Wrong?

A VERY COMMON question that I hear when speaking to someone about the Church of Christ, the Bible or obeying the Gospel is, “What if you’re wrong?” It’s a fair question, so let’s answer the question about salvation, from the viewpoint as a member of the church of Christ compared with the viewpoint of the major worldviews.

Calvinism, which is the foundation of the doctrines for the Baptist, Lutheran, and most protestant churches, teaches salvation “by faith only”. Every teacher of that doctrine, regardless of church affiliation, has said that when a person believes that Jesus is the Christ, then that person is saved. They cite passages like, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Ephesians 2:8. They go on to teach that a person who is saved by faith can never lose their salvation regardless of the sin they commit.

If we’re wrong, then we’re still saved. Members of the church of Christ believe that salvation IS BY FAITH. On this we agree. The difference is that we understand faith to INCLUDE obedience to God’s word. We cite the only passage in scripture that actually says, “by faith only.” That passage is found in James 2:24, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

They may argue that we’re adding to salvation and that salvation is by faith plus nothing, therefore we (members of the church of Christ) are not saved. The problem with this logic is that they forget their own teaching. A person who believes that Jesus is the Christ cannot ever lose their salvation. Once again, members of the Church of Christ are still saved even if we’ve committed the sin of addition under their doctrines. (If any are saved at all when you look at their false doctrine on predestination which says that God alone chooses who will be saved & lost and neither can ever change regardless of belief.)

Modern day Judaism teaches that one is saved if the balance of their life is good. One Jewish teacher said, “In Judaism, it is entirely up to you. If you do good, you will get good.”

If we’re wrong, and they’re right, we’re still saved. The byproduct of obeying the gospel, which includes becoming a faithful “do gooder”, puts us into salvation according to modern Judaism. We believe, according to scripture, that we should avoid evil and do good. In Galatians 5:16, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” Read the rest of that passage and you’ll see more of what I mean.

Buddhism has a final goal of achieving Nirvana which is a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. The right way to Nirvana, “… starts with understanding of suffering, not by mere mind, but by the purified mind.” The Sallekha Sutta is one of the key suttas that describes the true meaning of Practice towards attaining Nirvana. This describes that Right View (Samma Ditti) is the most important factor that Buddhists should develop to start to become selfless.

If we’re wrong, and they’re right, we’re still saved. In Scripture, a Christian is to be selfless and to purify the mind. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” [Romans 12:2]. Also in Ephesians 4:23 “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;”

A Christian is also commanded to be selfless. Verses like Matthew 25:31-46 and Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”

Islamism is a bit more difficult because it’s confusing. On one hand, you have millions practicing the “peaceful religion” of Islam, and on the other, you have radicalized and violent practitioners that seek to kill anyone that rejects Muhammed. How are we to know if they’re right or wrong?

We can know by consulting their own book the Quran. It says, “If thou (Muhammed) art in doubt concerning that which we reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scriptures before thee.” [Sura 10:94 – Yunus]. The Prophet Muhammed was told to refer to the Christians for fuller spiritual understanding! There are even more passages within the Quran telling the Muslim to consult the book of the Jew & the Christian in addition to the passages that talk about Jesus and Mary in a positive light.

Therefore, according to their own book, they are to read the Bible. The Scriptures are the foundation of what we believe, [1Timothy 3:16]. Jesus said in John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” If we’re wrong, and they’re right, we are told to go back to the Scriptures and once again find ourselves obeying the Gospel!

Catholicism says that the Pope is the head of the church on earth. The word Pope comes from the Latin word “papa”, which means father. A quick look at Scripture and we find Jesus saying, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” [Matthew 23:9]. Again, members of the Church of Christ have it right.

I’ve gone through many of the worldviews and answered the question, “what if we’re wrong” and have found that, according to their views, we’re saved. Shouldn’t THEY also answer the question? Let’s do that for them.

My denominational friend, if you’re wrong about your religion, your denomination or your practices, you have no way to change it at the judgement day. Therefore, REPENT before it’s eternally too late. 

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:5 

 

Justified by Faith

THE FAITH ONLY crowd will “prove” their belief by quoting Romans 4:5. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” They may even go further and include Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Then, if you press them, they will quote Ephesians 2:8-9, “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.”

Let me say here and now that I believe each of these passages, just not how THEY believe them. Their problem is that these passages are quoted out of context and interpreted without that context. They come to the conclusion that a person is justified (saved) by FAITH ALONE.

What do these passages mean?

When one studies the bible, one rule that is often overlooked but must always be applied is the rule of context. A passage needs to be interpreted in the light of its context. Another consideration is that the bible harmonizes with other similar texts.

When we teach about salvation from scripture, we need to deliver, “all the counsel of God.” [Acts 20:27]

In Romans chapter 4, Paul is making a case regarding salvation that includes gentiles (those folks who were not Jews). Abrahams justification is given PRIOR to his becoming circumcised which became part of the Law of Moses [Leviticus 12:3] . Paul asks then answers, “How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.” [Romans 4:10]

The faith only folks want you to believe that Abraham did NOTHING prior to his JUSTIFICATION. This simply is not true. When Paul said in Romans 4 that Abraham was justified, he is referring to Genesis 15:6. However, by that time, Abraham had already OBEYED God by leaving his homeland in Gen 11:31-12:3.

It is this OBEDIENT FAITH on the part of Abraham that the Hebrew writer acknowledges in the HALL OF FAITH in Hebrews 11:8. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”

It is true that Abraham was justified without the deeds of the law, which according to the context refers to the Law of Moses. Nowhere does the Scripture teach that a person is justified (saved) without works.

What about Ephesians 2:8-9?

For this passage we need to apply the same rules, context & harmony. Let us read verse 10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Once again, the context teaches us something about works.

There are 2 kinds of works, works of man & works of God. Ephesian 2:10 teaches that there are works that God has prepared. Works that God commands. Please understand what I am saying, a person is never justified by works when he places his trust in JUST the works. We are justified when we put our trust in God WHILE DOING THE WORKS HE HAS COMMANDED.

This harmonizes with the rest of the scriptures. Look at James 2, another passage that quotes this same Justification of Abraham from Genesis 15:6, “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” [James 2:20-24]

Let’s look again at that HALL OF FAITH in Hebrews 11…By faith…
  • Abel OFFERED vs4
  • Enoch WALKED vs5; Gen 5:24
  • Noah PREPARED vs7
  • Abraham OBEYED & SOJOURNED vs8-9
  • Moses parents HID Moses vs23
  • Moses REFUSED, CHOSE, FORSOOK vs24-27
  • Israel PASSED through vs 29
  • Rahab RECEIVED vs30
  • Others SUBDUED kingdoms, WROUGHT righteousness, OBTAINED promises, STOPPED the mouths of lions, vs33

To follow their example, people today must obey the word of the Lord. He said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” [Mark 16:16] The faith alone people, “make an error, not knowing the scriptures.”  [Matthew 22:29] When you weigh ALL the evidence, harmonize the scriptures and read the context then you will know the truth, and this truth shall set you free. [John 8:32]

THE TRUTH HAS SET US FREE…FROM WHAT?

JESUS SAID TO the believing Jews, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” [John 8:31-32]

From this passage, as disciples, we must continue in His word, and from this word we will know the truth. Then this truth will set us free. Later on Jesus will say that God’s word is truth. [John 17:17]

The first question you should ask is; “From what are we being set free?”

WE ARE FREE FROM…
  • The curse of the Law of Moses. Galatians 3:10 points out “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” This was referring to the Law of Moses, for in chapter 5v4 Paul then says that a person seeking to return to that law “has fallen from Grace.”
  • The power of the Law. Romans 7:1-7 teaches us that until Christ’s death, burial and resurrection that the Law of Moses was still in effect. It wasn’t until His death were we freed from the power of the Law, “nailing it to his cross.” [Colossians 2:14]
  • The dominion of sin.Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” [Romans 6:17-18] Without the death, burial & resurrection of Jesus, “ye are yet in your sins.” [1Corinthians 15:17]
  • The guilt of sin. The guilt that most people experience is dependent upon a future punishment. In Christ, who paid the debt for our sins, Christians have been made free from the condemnation of sin. “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” [Romans 8:33] Does this mean that we can continue to sin? No sir. Rather, we have someone who cleanses us of our sin, but only if we’re in Christ. [1John 1:9]
  • The power of darkness. Because we are His disciples, having obeyed the Gospel, God has “…delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:” [Colossians 1:13] Many say that the kingdom will begin sometime later, but this scripture teach that Christians are in His kingdom now and free from the darkness of this world.
  • The fear of man. No longer bound by sin, under the power of darkness of this world, Christians are also free of what man can do to us. The Apostles faced persecution, beatings and imprisonments, even being commanded to stop speaking about Jesus. Yet, they had no fear saying, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” [Acts 5:29; 4:18-20] Though we may be persecuted or threatened for our faith, no man can ever take away our salvation. “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” [Psalm 118:6]
  • The fear of death’s sting. Because we are in Christ, and freed from the bondage of sin, we no longer have the fear of death. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” [1Corinthians 15:56,57] Being in Christ, we look forward to a day when we can be with the Lord even if He comes sometime after our life on this Earth. [1Thessalonians 4:14-17]
  • The position of no hope. Becoming a Christian puts us into a living hope. This hope becomes a part of our lives and is demonstrated to the world through our lives. Peter noted that this hope shall be seen by those around us to the point that they may ask us of this hope. [1Peter 3:15]
  • The state of separation from God. Christians become children of God through adoption. Prior to our obedience to the gospel, we are separated from God because of sin, but now we are reconciled to God by the death of His son. [Romans 5:10] What a wonderful thing it is to be called a child of God. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” [Galatians 3:26]
WE HAVE BEEN SET FREE IF….

…we become one of His disciples. This begs the next question, How do I become a disciple of Christ? Remember, Jesus said, ““If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” [John 8:31-32] To become His disciple we must obey the Gospel. Before He ascended into heaven He gave this command, “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:” [Mt 28:19 (ASV)]

The Gospel is what calls us [2Thessalonians 2:14]. Leaving sin, we obey the Gospel which shall deliver us [Romans 6:17]. The gospel is about the Death, burial and resurrection of Jesus [1Corinthians 15:1-4]. When Jesus is preached [Acts 8:35], one will conclude the need to be baptized [Acts 8:36].

If you “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” [Matthew 22:37] then you will also do whatever he commands.

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” [Luke 6:46]

What saves you?

how do you know?

walk in truth

You say you walk in truth, but how do you know? 3 John 1:4

HAVE YOU ever noticed that when you ask folks about their church they’ll tell you that it teaches the truth? If that were true, then why are there so many denominations teaching different things regarding salvation, worship, godly living and sin? They will also tell me they read their bibles.

If I were to ask someone if they belong to a gym, or own a piece of exercise equipment, there’s a good chance that the answer will be “yes”. Do I need to tell you my thoughts about their answer when I can clearly see the results? LOL. [this coming from a man that owns an elliptical and frequents fast food]

You may think these two questions are unrelated, in fact they have more in common than you may at first realize. The only difference is that with the second question, the person has to admit their failure in “walking in truth” regarding their health. With the first question, they’re often ignorant of their spiritual health.

The Apostle Paul commanded the Corinthian church to “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” [2Co 13:5] But how are we to do this “examination”? Let me suggest 3 things we should be examining regarding our faith.

EXAMINE YOURSELVES

We’ve already read the command to examine ourselves, but how and to what? First, let’s never make the mistake of comparing ourselves with others, this is a big problem. Paul had said in the same letter “..we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” [2Co 10:12] Our Lord told a similar story when he told us about the Pharisee that said, “..God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” [Lu 18:11]

No, other men are not the standard. The standard of comparison should always be Christ and His word. Paul also taught the Church at Corinth to, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” [1Co 11:1 (NKJV)]. So how does one walk in truth? You become a follower of Christ who said…

Joh 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Joh 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Mt 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:
Mt 22:29 .. Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
Mt 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

EXAMINE YOUR TEACHER

In order to know if you’re walking in truth you must also examine the information you’re receiving. I once had a math teacher that regularly made basic math errors because she wasn’t very good at math. How long do you think my parents kept me in that class? Yet we continually listen to people who are supposed to teach us biblical principles, making grievous errors because they don’t know, or don’t understand what they are teaching. [1Timothy 1:7]

I’ve met “bible teachers” that get upset when I ask questions about the bible, showing them scriptures for my assertions. I’ve met “bible teachers” that actually attempt to tear down the truth of the bible when I show them passages that teach the opposite of their own. A priest of a particular denomination even said, “We’re not encouraged to read the bible.”

The Apostle John himself wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. [1Jo 4:1 (NKJV)] Paul was himself subjected to this “examination” by the Bereans in Acts 17:11 when they searched the scriptures daily to see if the things he taught were true.

If it’s good enough for them, it should be good enough for your teacher, preacher or pastor. None of them should ever be afraid of sound doctrine, IF THEY’RE TEACHING IT.

EXAMINE YOUR CHURCH

This third step is just as important as the other two. Scripture teaches that the church is the people, it never refers to the building. [Eph 1:22, 23; 1Co 12:12] Read what our Lord, Jesus said to the churches in Revelation chapter 2 & 3….

Re 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Re 2:14 But I have a few things against thee,
Re 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
Re 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee,
Re 3:1 …I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Re 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

A teaching in scripture that is often ignored is the teaching about purifying the church. Paul told the church to “purge out”, referring to the man that was a member of the church at Corinth, but was living in unrepentant sin. [1Co 5:7]

When we assemble together, we must assemble IN HIS NAME. [Mt 18:20] To do something in His name means that in order to worship, we must do it by the Lord’s permission. We must worship “in spirit AND TRUTH” and His “word is truth”. [Joh 4:24; Joh 17:17]

CONCLUSION

It’s wonderful to hear that folks want to walk in truth, but desire is only the beginning, we must act upon that desire and obey God. In every case of conversion in the book of Acts, when folks heard the Gospel and had a desire for the salvation it provides, they all REPENTED AND WERE BAPTIZED.

That is the truth.

spencer

Evangelist at the Franklin St. church of Christ in Borger, Texas.