What do I do Now?

After a person obeys the gospel, the most oft asked question is, “what do I do now?” However, this question is asked by both the new convert AND the members of the local congregation. The new convert, full of joy and gratitude, has a desire to serve and to do what is right. The older members want to help them, but where do you begin?

For the answer, let us turn to Acts 2, the place where the church of Christ began.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. That’s where we are with Margie, and all others who obeyed the gospel recently (a young man named Nick, was also baptized into Christ on the same day.) Nobody joins the church; the Lord adds to the church [47].

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Here’s where we find our answer to the question, “what do I do next?”

Continue in the apostles’ doctrine. The Apostles’ doctrine is Christ’s doctrine. Jesus said to the Apostles, that in addition to making disciples, as one who has all authority, teach them “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” [Mat 28:19-20]. Paul said about his letters, “let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” [1Cor 14:37]

So, the first thing we need to do is to continue to learn through study of the Scriptures what Jesus expects from us. The most effective way to do this is for the new convert and the “old” members to get together and study the scriptures. We need to note that “continue” means to do them. It’s not enough to learn what Jesus wants, we must obey Him [John 14:15]. We can also learn when we gather to worship on the first day of the week.

And Fellowship and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. The new Christians worshiped together. They had fellowship, which means that they were in partnership with one another. This partnership begins when we, “all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” [1Cor 1:10]. The partnership also includes the collection of money for the work of the church. (As you continue to study, you’ll begin to understand the work God has given the church is to spread the Gospel, Teach the saints and practice limited benevolence). The Philippians gave money to spread the gospel, and were in fellowship in the gospel [Phil 1:3-7].

One of the parts of worship (there are 5 activities in sound worship) the disciples ‘broke bread’ which is to remember the death of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Supper” the first Christians met on the 1st day of the week, Sunday, where they would take unleavened bread and fruit of the vine to commemorate His death. The Apostle Paul wrote the early Christians how to properly observe this important part of our worship [1Cor 11:23-34].

 

They also prayed. Prayer is the privilege of the saints. Christians are called saint in the Scriptures [Rom 1:7; Eph 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1]. In obeying the gospel through baptism, we have “put on Christ” [Gal 3:27] and have been given access through Him to the “throne of grace” [Heb 4:16]. Prayer is an incredible part of becoming a child of God. We know that God does not listen to sinners [John 9:31] but He hears us!

God is not our “genie in a bottle,” to gift us with everything we want like a spoiled child. Rather, He wants to help us in our time of need. It says in Hebrews 4:16; “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Temptation doesn’t stop when we become Christians, neither do troubles & pains, “but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” [1Cor 10:13]. So, all Christians need to pray.

Finally, let us note one more thing from Acts 2…

47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. As you begin your journey as a new Christian, and every Christian, let us never forget from whom we received the gift of grace. We received it from God through Christ Jesus [Eph 2:8-10]. May we never forget, may it never grow old and may we never grow tired of praising God for His indescribable gift.

Thanks be unto God for his indescribable gift.

2Corinthians 9:15

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Watching the Son

…while they looked stedfastly toward heaven…

On August 21st millions of Americans will be gazing into heaven as North America experiences a Total Solar Eclipse that crosses the U.S. in a way that hasn’t occurred since 1918. Everyone in the contiguous United States will experience at least a partial eclipse, with totality being along a 70 mile wide path from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. The window of opportunity to view the eclipse will be about two minutes and 40 seconds, a very narrow window indeed.

Looking directly at the sun, as we’ve all learned, can be extremely harmful to your eyes. You must never look directly into the sun without ISO 12312-2 certified eclipse viewing glasses.

There is a word of warning, without the ISO 12312-2 certified eclipse viewing glasses, you will permanently damage your eyes. Some may say, “I have some really dark sunglasses.” These simply won’t do. You must have the official ISO 12312-2 certified eclipse viewing glasses.

There are also fake solar eclipse glasses being sold as authentic ISO 12312-2 certified eclipse viewing glasses. The problem is so bad, that Amazon has issued warnings regarding the false claims of some vendors.  Attempting to view the eclipse through these non ISO 12312-2 certified eclipse viewing glasses will also cause you to lose your eyesight.

BUY YOUR GLASSES TODAY

There’s one more problem. If you wait until the eclipse begins, and you don’t already own a pair of these ISO 12312-2 certified eclipse viewing glasses, there will be no opportunity to buy them. At the time of this writing (1 week before the eclipse), the ISO 12312-2 certified eclipse viewing glasses are already sold out online. If they were available online, the ISO 12312-2 certified eclipse viewing glasses would never arrive on time. By the time the Total Solar Eclipse begins locally, the retail shops will also be sold out. IT WILL BE TOO LATE. Even if there are a few ISO 12312-2 certified eclipse viewing glasses, a 2 minute window is not enough tme to go and buy them. You must have your ISO 12312-2 certified eclipse viewing glasses now.

I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT THE ECLIPSE

You may be saying to yourself, “self, why is Spencer taking so much bulletin space to tell us about the eclipse and why isn’t he telling us something pertinent to our salvation?” I hope you realize by now, though I find the Total Solar Eclipse interesting, I’m using this phenomenon as an opportunity to warn everyone.

You see, one day the SON will return to earth from Heaven. This is a promise that the Apostles heard as the stood gazing into the sky when Jesus rose into heaven. “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” [Acts 1:11]

If we have not already ‘purchased’ CERTIFIED access to the Kingdom of Heaven, when He returns, IT WILL BE TOO LATE!. [cr. Mat 13:44-46] This same Jesus, for whom we gaze into the sky, said it this way in Matthew 24:1-13…

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”

Jesus said, “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” [John 14:6]. He then said in vs 15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Further on He said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” [John 15:14] Then, before He went into heaven, He told us what to do to prepare BEFORE His return…

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:16

What do I do now?

The Franklin St church of Christ in Borger, Tx

IT IS WITH GREAT joy that we announce a new sister in Christ, Margie. Just as there is joy in the heart of the one who obeys the gospel, there is also much joy in heaven and we are also full of joy for her [Luke 15:7, 10].

After a person obeys the gospel, the most oft asked question is, “what do I do now?” However, this question is asked by both the new convert AND the members of the local congregation. The new convert, full of joy and gratitude, has a desire to serve and to do what is right. The older members want to help them, but where do you begin?

For the answer, let us turn to Acts 2, the place where the church of Christ began.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. That’s where we are with Margie, and all others who obeyed the gospel recently (a young man was also baptized into Christ on the same day.) Nobody joins the church; the Lord adds to the church [47].

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Here’s where we find our answer to the question, “what do I do next?”

Continue in the apostles’ doctrine. The Apostles’ doctrine is Christ’s doctrine. Jesus said to the Apostles, that in addition to making disciples, as one who has all authority, teach them “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” [Mat 28:19-20]. Paul said about his letters, “let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” [1Cor 14:37]

So, the first thing we need to do is to continue to learn through study of the Scriptures what Jesus expects from us. The most effective way to do this is for the new convert and the “old” members to get together and study the scriptures. We need to note that “continue” means to do them. It’s not enough to learn what Jesus wants, we must obey Him [John 14:15]. We can also learn when we gather to worship on the first day of the week.

And Fellowship and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. The new Christians worshiped together. They had fellowship, which means that they were in partnership with one another. This partnership begins when we, “all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” [1Cor 1:10]. The partnership also includes the collection of money for the work of the church. (As you continue to study, you’ll begin to understand the work God has given the church is to spread the Gospel, Teach the saints and practice limited benevolence). The Philippians gave money to spread the gospel, and were in fellowship in the gospel [Phil 1:3-7].

One of the parts of worship (there are 5 activities in sound worship) the disciples ‘broke bread’ which is to remember the death of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Supper” the first Christians met on the 1st day of the week, Sunday, where they would take unleavened bread and fruit of the vine to commemorate His death. The Apostle Paul wrote the early Christians how to properly observe this important part of our worship [1Cor 11:23-34].

They also prayed. Prayer is the privilege of the saints. Christians are called saint in the Scriptures [Rom 1:7; Eph 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1]. In obeying the gospel through baptism, we have “put on Christ” [Gal 3:27] and have been given access through Him to the “throne of grace” [Heb 4:16]. Prayer is an incredible part of becoming a child of God. We know that God does not listen to sinners [John 9:31] but He hears us!

God is not our “genie in a bottle,” to gift us with everything we want like a spoiled child. Rather, He wants to help us in our time of need. It says in Hebrews 4:16; “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Temptation doesn’t stop when we become Christians, neither do troubles & pains, “but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” [1Cor 10:13]. So, all Christians need to pray.

Finally, let us note one more thing from Acts 2…

47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. As you begin your journey as a new Christian, and every Christian, let us never forget from whom we received the gift of grace. We received it from God through Christ Jesus [Eph 2:8-10]. May we never forget, may it never grow old and may we never grow tired of praising God for His indescribable gift.

Thanks be unto God for his indescribable gift.

2 Corinthians 9:15

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.

 

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?

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]

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.

What about the Thief on the Cross?

what about the thief

Folks will use many reasons to take away the command by our Lord to be baptized. The one heard most commonly by me is, “What about the thief on the cross?” This one is offered by those who have a little biblical knowledge, and by those who’ve heard it before, but have never been challenged with scriptural evidence.

THE ARGUMENT goes like this; “If, as you say, baptism is necessary for salvation, then what about the thief on the cross? He was never baptized, yet the Lord said, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Baptism is not necessary to salvation, because the thief could not obey that command, yet the Lord said he would be in paradise.” [Lu 23:43]

The Scriptures examined: The real issue pertains to a crucial feature of Bible interpretation, are we to take all 66 books of the Bible and take everything that is said and apply it directly and equally to everyone? The Bible is literally filled with commands, instructions, and requirements that were not intended to be duplicated by people living today. People are amenable to the law period under which they lived. [2Timothy 2:15]. There are three dispensations found in the Scriptures:

  • The Patriarchal Dispensation – From creation, everyone was subject to a body of legislation passed down by God through the fathers of family clans (cf. Hebrews 11:1), until the giving of the Law of Moses.
  • The Mosaic Dispensation – At Mt. Sinai, Moses was given a new Law from God and Jews were subject to that body of legal information [Law of Moses] from that time until it also was terminated at the cross of Christ. Consider the following passages:[Matthew 27:51; Romans 2:12-16; Galatians 3:7-29; Ephesians 2:11-22; Colossians 2:11-17]
  • The Christian Dispensation – After Jesus’ death on the Cross, all peoples are now amenable to the Law of Christ. [Galatians 6:2]
Now that we have this background information, let’s examine the reasons which make their argument invalid:

Reason #1– The Law of Moses was still in effect. Many folks are confused when reading the Gospels for it is commonly called, “The New Testament.” However, the majority of the gospel story in Matthew, Mark, Luke & John, take place while Jesus was alive and living as a Jew subject to the Law of Moses.

Jesus was born to a Jewish family under the Law [Mat 1; Luke 3; Ga 4:4], circumcised the 8th day [Lu 2:21], observed the Passover [Lu 2:41, 22:8-20], taught people to follow the Law [Matthew 5:23-24; 8:4], and followed the Law Himself [Matthew 5:17-18].

Under the Law of Moses, never was there a command to be baptized for the remission of sins. Sins were atoned for through the sacrifice of bulls; And he shall do with the bull as he did with the bull as a sin offering; thus he shall do with it. So the priest shall make atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them. (Leviticus 4:20). The word “atonement” <kaphar> literally means “to cover” and is the same as in Gen 6:14 regarding covering the ark with pitch.

Nowhere in the Old Testament is the teaching that sins were totally removed. As we study our Bibles, we find in Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. [Heb 10:11 …can never take away sins.] This system pointed to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and terminated at the cross [see above scripture references]

The thief on the cross lived during this Mosaic period, therefore was subject to the Law of Moses and it’s system of sacrifice through bulls and goats.

Which brings us to the second reason……

Reason #2 – Since Jesus lived under the Law of Moses, He followed that law. Of course, He would have no reason to offer a sacrifice on His own behalf [Hebrews 4:15] being without sin, He did teach those around Him to do it for themselves [Mt 8:1-4]

As we study, we find out that the sacrifices in the Law of Moses were pointing to the sacrifice that Jesus would offer of Himself. Galatians 3:19-27 teaches that the Law was a teacher to bring us to Christ.

The letter to the HEBREWS teaches us that it was Christ’s death that ended the Law and began the New Covenant. [Hebrews 8-10]. Paul, speaking about the death of Jesus in relationship to the Law of Moses, said “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” [Colossians 2:14]

Therefore, the THIEF on the cross never had a command to be baptized for the remission of sins. He died, having repented and placed his trust in the Christ, as EVERYONE UNDER THE LAW OF MOSES did when they obeyed the ordinances under that law.

Reason #3– The command to be baptized “for the remission of sins” was issued AFTER Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. When Jesus was on the cross, He was fulfilling the Law of Moses, ending it, and bringing in the New Covenant. It was AFTER His death, burial and resurrection that He gave the great commission, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” [Matthew 28:19]

FOR THE REMISSION OF SIN – This phrase is found in connection with baptism. It is particularly important to note how and when it was used;

  • Mt 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
  • Ac 2:38 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.

These two verses show the connection between, baptism, Christ’s blood AND the remission of sins.

The other instances of this phrase are connected to the preaching of John “the Baptist”. When we study the scriptures, we find that John’s baptism never remitted any sins, for we read in Acts 19:1-5;

And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.  4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

CONCLUSION:
  • The thief on the cross lived AND DIED under the Law of Moses, as did Jesus our Lord, where there was NO COMMAND to be baptized.
  • The thief, had he been able to obey the command, was not under any obligation to obey it for it DIDN’T APPLY TO HIM at the time of his death, because the Law of Moses was the covenant in force at the time of the statement, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
  • The command to be baptized was given AFTER his death.