DUELING CONCEPTS

Entrepreneurship Ministry/Stewardship | Recycling Dollars

 

One of the questions I like to ask folks is, “Why do you go to your church?” The answers vary, but the least frequently mentioned reason is Biblical accuracy.

Even when someone does mention sound Biblical teaching, it usually falls under one of 2 categories, chief of which is, “I really like the Pastor.” Second to this is, “he uses the bible.”

This is my cue to ask another set of questions. It usually goes like this…

ME: “That’s cool, what does your pastor teach about salvation?”

THEM: “It’s about a relationship not a religion. If you ask Jesus into your heart you will be saved.”

ME: “Oh? What is that bible passage for that belief?”

THEM: blank stare “I don’t know the bible as well as I should, but I know it’s in there. Besides, Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”” [John 3:16]

ME: “I was reading 1Peter 3:21 and I saw this. Maybe you can help me understand what it means, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us.” What do you think that means?”

THEM: “I have to go.”

The above was just an abbreviated version of several conversations I have every week. People are very happy to tell me of their feelings of faith. When asked for biblical clarity, many no longer want to talk.

I KNOW WHY

There are only a few reasons why a person won’t talk to me or another who asks for clarity of their beliefs.

  • EMBARRASSED: They can’t defend them & are a little embarrassed, so they must go before I discover their ignorance. Sometimes embarrassment becomes anger.
  • MISTRUST: Connected to the first, since they know they don’t know, they must run away from any who has a different gospel. Maybe they heard Gal 1:8-9 in reverse?
  • HOOKED ON A FEELING: This is exemplified by phrases like, “You can’t tell me that God isn’t speaking to me.” “I had an overwhelming feeling of peace…” (I’ve heard these lines from just about every denomination which begs the question, how do we know their feelings are accurate?)

There is a way to KNOW for certain. It’s in God’s word. We can read it in context and COMPARE it to what we are doing. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:” [Matt 7:24]

The sayings of Jesus are recorded in the Gospels and His commands are in the rest of the New Testament, [1Cor 14:37]. “These are written that ye might believe…” [John 20:30-31].

The beauty of the written word is that we can all look at the same material and know the truth and be set free. [John 8:32]

In short, WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

GOD SAYS

BAPTISM = IMMERSE in WATER

ESSENTIAL

ACTS 22:16; 1Pet 3:21

ONE CHURCH

EPH 4:4, 1:22-23

SILENCE PROHIBITS

Heb 7:12-14; 2Sam 7:7

LOCAL CHURCH AUTONOMY

Acts 20:28

LIMITED BENEVOLENCE

1Tim 5:5-16

FAITH through the WORD

Rom 10:14-17

ASSURANCE through OBEDIENCE

2John 1:9

NOT BY FAITH ALONE

James 2:24

 VOCAL SINGING

Eph 5:19; Col 3:16

MAN SAYS

BAPTISM, Sprinkling / Holy Spirit, Not ESSENTIAL

MANY CHURCHES

SILENCE PERMITS

A CHURCH WORLD HEADQUARTERS

UNLIMITED BENEVOLENCE

FAITH through A FEELING

ASSURANCE through A FEELING

FAITH ALONE

SING, PLAY INSTRUMENTS, BANDS, CHOIRS, SOLOS etc.

Ask Jesus into your heart

We’re told to ‘ASK JESUS INTO OUR HEART’ so that we can be saved. The only verse in scripture remotely close to that is John 14:15-21 partially quoted here: “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever– 21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

But they don’t like that, so I ask, “HOW DO YOU ASK JESUS?” Their reply, “ASK JESUS.”

So, I did… and Jesus said…

Matthew 11:15 He that hath ears to hear, let him HEAR.

John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye BELIEVE not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

Luke 13:3 except ye REPENT ye shall ask likewise perish

Luke 12:8 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall CONFESS me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:

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

Mat 28:20 Teaching them to OBSERVE all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Now that we’ve asked Jesus, are we to obey His words?

Be careful how you answer,

Hebrews 5:9 And having been perfected, He (Jesus) became the author of eternal salvation to all who OBEY Him,

2Thessalonians 1:8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Must we OBEY the Master of the Universe, the Creator, the one who has been given ALL AUTHORITY in heaven and on Earth? Mat 28:18

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Luke 6:46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?

BUT AREN’T WE SAVED BY FAITH ONLY?

Do you know there is only ONE verse in the entirety of scripture with those words (FAITH ONLY) placed side by side?

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

I find it interesting, in the denominational world, they remove the word NOT from James 2:24, but they don’t remove it all together. They take it a place it back inside the scriptures at Mark 16:16;

Mark 16:16 as understood by the denominations:

“He who believes and is (NOT) baptized will be saved;

WHAT DOES IT REALLY SAY?

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

LEGALISM

One of the most manipulative criticisms of the members of the Lord’s church is that they’re ‘legalists.’

Legalism is defined as “strict, literal or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code” (Webster’s Dictionary). Another way of saying it is, “one who follows the rules.”

What is unique about the definition of legalism is that it’s subjective. What does “excessive conformity” mean, who decides what is excessive and by what standard are they determining what constitutes excessive.

If you were to poll the denominations in a local area about what is a legalist, and pit their views on sin against one another, you’ll find that they would each think the other were legalists.

It’s really a made-up sin for people who want to continue in it. Paul addressed this in Romans chapter 6…

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?” Romans 6:1-2

Here’s the rub, the workers of the devil have convinced people that NOT COMMITTING SIN IS A SIN! If you were to suggest that a legalist is a person who places their trust in the rule keeping ONLY, then of course that’s wrong. God clearly teaches an obedience through faith. Jesus condemned the Pharisee’s, not for keeping the law, rather for keeping it without their heart. I’ve met no one in the churches of Christ who believes or teaches salvation by works alone.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these OUGHT YE TO HAVE DONE, AND NOT TO LEAVE THE OTHER UNDONE.” [Mat 23:23] emphasis mine.

A careful reading of the New Testament will find commands like…

  • Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: Mat 28:18
  • By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: Romans 1:5
  • …according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: Romans 16:26
  • For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. 2Cor 2:9
  • If ye love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15
  • For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 1John 5:3

I believe the confusion comes from a misunderstanding of passages that teach the keeping of the Law could not bring life [ie Gal 3:11; 5:1-4]. The context of these passages is speaking about the Law of Moses, not the Law of Christ. Later in Galatians 3:27 Paul wrote, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” In many places, the Inspired Writers and Apostles of Christ warned those, that still clung to the fulfilled Law of Moses, that it would lead to death. And nowhere will you find any similar condemnation of strictly following the commands of our Lord. Instead, they commend it.

Now, based on a poor understanding of Scripture, millions are being led astray believing that strict obedience to God is a sin called legalism. They’re being told that a faithful Christian is one who is not overly concerned with knowing or keeping God’s commandments. They will often cite 2Corinthians 3:6 as a proof text. However, when you examine the context (v7) you’ll find that what is under consideration is once again, the Law of Moses as it refers to “tablets of stone.”

Listen up, those who love God will keep His commandments [John 14:15]. What does it mean then if you refuse to keep His commandments? In his letters, John also wrote…

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” [1John 2:3]

To love God, to truly know God, is to keep His commandments THROUGH FAITH for it also says in His divine word…

 

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” [Hebrews 11:6]

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.

What doth hinder you?

In Acts 8, the Ethiopian Eunich asked, “….what doth hinder me to be baptized?” [Acts 8:36] This is the question that needs to be answered, what hinders you?

As I was reading Mark, this passage caused me to pause, ”That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.” [Mr 4:12] It caused me to think about people that are blinded to the truth….

  • No one is so blind….
    • As one who WILL NOT SEE.
  • No one is so Deaf….
    • As one who WILL NOT HEAR.
  • No one is so illiterate….
    • As one who WILL NOT READ. [Eph 3:4]
  • No one is so ignorant….
    • As one who WILL NOT STUDY. [2Ti 2:15]

I once met a man convinced that salvation was by faith only. He actually was passing out material declaring the same. I asked him questions, noting that his material lacked scriptural support for what he was teaching. He said, “That’s odd, there should be some scriptures for this.”

I told him that I agreed, and asked, after much discussion, if he’d like to see the only passage in the entirety of scripture that says, “By faith only” in that sequence. What he said next shocked me, “No, I’m ok.” He then took his Bible, which I had opened to the very passage, closed it and stuck it into his pocket.

It is a sad day when a person claiming to be a child of God closes the Bible on truth. So, what doth hinder you from being baptized?

  • Me? – No, I’ll not stand in your way.
  • The church? – No, your denomination may, but the church of the Bible will never.
  • Law? – No, there’s nothing in the Law of Christ, [Ro 8:2] that will hinder you, it teaches it.
  • God? – No, He’s not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. [2Pe 3:9]

So who is it? It’s YOU! Only you stand in the way of salvation. Oh yeah, do you want to know the only time “…by faith only” is used in Scripture?

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