Archive for December, 2012

Does “Believer Hath Everlasting Life” Prove Salvation Is At The Point Of Faith?

December 29, 2012

Many say a verse like John 6:47b (“He that believeth on me (Jesus) hath everlasting life”) proves salvation comes at the point of faith, thereby ruling out water baptism as also being necessary. They reason the verse says the believer in Christ “hath” everlasting life, meaning present possession, and that is said about a believer so that must mean a person presently possesses everlasting life (is saved) at the moment he believes – before he is baptized.

But how would that reasoning work with a verse like John 5:24 which reads “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life”? Wouldn’t the same reasoning prove a person is saved at the point of believing in God the Father, thereby ruling out believing in Jesus as also being necessary? Isn’t the verse saying those who believe in God the Father “hath” everlasting life? That would mean all the Jews and Muslims are saved after all! But we know that is not true based on hundreds of passages that make believing in Jesus a necessity to salvation, like John 14:6 for example – “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

The simple truth is that Jesus is not intending to state all the necessary conditions of salvation in any one of these verses. It would be like me stating I caught a bass with my Zebco 202 (fishing reel). I wouldn’t mean by that statement that fishing line wasn’t necessary or that a lure wasn’t necessary; instead I would just be stating one of the several essentials. When it comes to the subject of salvation (or any other religious issue) we must take the sum of God’s word, everything he has said on the topic (Matt 4:4) – and put it all together. Then, and only then, we will have God’s complete answer to the question. When Jesus said in Mark 16:16a “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” he wasn’t lying about it.

Does God Say It Is Wrong To Swear ?

December 23, 2012

Matthew 5:33-37 reads “Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”

Some say this passage leaves room for some swearing, but don’t we know what the phrase “at all” means? Notice the following Biblical parallels:

· John 18:38 – Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. – Were some faults found in Jesus?

· I John 1:5 – This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. – Is there some darkness (sin) in God?

When Jesus said to “swear not at all,” he meant what he said; he left no wiggle room. James 5:12 confirms this by saying “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” Swearing is always a sin, so we should never do it – no exceptions, not even in a court of law.

Out Of The Ivory Palaces

December 19, 2012

There’s a song we sing at church called “Out Of The Ivory Palaces” which further increases our appreciation for what Jesus did in coming to this earth. The premise of the song is that the magnitude of Jesus’ love is further seen when we realize the sacrifice Jesus had to make just in leaving his lofty position in heaven to come down to this earth to live as a common man. As it were, the king or prince left his “ivory palaces” (Psalms 45:8) to dwell among his lowly subjects.

Indeed Jesus did leave heaven (John 3:13) for our eternal benefit. II Corinthians 8:9 puts the concept this way – “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor , that ye through his poverty might be rich.” I am sure the Lord’s garments (and everything else) were “so wondrous fine” (in a spiritual sense) as the song states, but he gave it all up in order to help us. Perhaps we should ask ourselves this question – would we be willing to do the same for our fellow man?

Philippians 2:6-8 describes Jesus’ voluntarily loss in position thusly “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” The greatest King ever, yet also the most humble person ever.

Indeed we should be so appreciative of Jesus leaving his superior and exalted position in heaven and lowering himself to become a man in order to die for us. Truly Jesus was “God with us” (Matt 1:23).

Some Things We Ought To Say

December 14, 2012

Oneness Pentecostal groups teach a “Baptismal Formula” position that the baptizer has to say certain words when he does the baptizing, else the baptism is invalid. Faithful Christians reply that the Bible nowhere tells us what the baptizer is to “say,” but that if the Bible ever did reveal what the baptizer “ought to say,” we would bind that. That is a correct response, but are we consistent with that response?

Romans 10:9-10 teaches a sinner must confess with his “mouth” the Lord Jesus in order to be saved. Do we teach this confession must really be done with the mouth (an actual verbal confession), or is the practice generally that a nod of the head is acceptable as a confession? Isn’t this silent confession practice inconsistent with our argument against the “Baptismal Formula” theory as mentioned above?

Instead of just assuming certain things will happen in the future, James 4:15 instructs that we “ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” Notice this verse says we ought to say, not just that we ought to think. There’s a big difference you know. If God says we “ought to say” something, why don’t we teach we ought to say it?

I Corinthians 14:16 shows approval for people to “say Amen” after prayers to express agreement. Do we ever do that? If not, aren’t we being disingenuous with our assurances to the Oneness Pentecostals that we would say a particular thing at baptism if the Bible ever told us to say it (verbally)?

Instead of being so “smart” that we can reason away the instruction of these simple passages (Proverbs 14:12), why not just accept that God told us to do some things verbally and comply with his wishes? Surely putting God first will overcome any embarrassment we might have in doing so.

Please send me your list of other things the New Testament teaches we “ought to say.”

Baptism And Ephesians 2:8-9 by Andrew Richardson

December 10, 2012

Contrary to majority view, baptism is absolutely necessary for receiving salvation just as is faith and repentance (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; Gal. 3:27). However, that which Paul penned in Ephesians 2:8-9, perhaps more than any other passage, is cited as proof that we are saved without baptism. It is said that baptism cannot be a necessity because Paul says salvation is not “of works” and “not of yourselves.” In reality, when rightly understood, Paul’s point has no relevance to the requirement of baptism for salvation.

Context

Paul is speaking about what salvation is based upon—the grace of God through the blood of Christ. He is emphasizing God’s great love and mercy by reminding the Christians at Ephesus that though they were once lost in their sins, being “dead” (vss. 1, 5), they were saved by God’s grace (v. 8). Nothing is clearer in the Bible than that our redemption is rooted in the sacrifice of Christ. He shed His blood “for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). This is God’s magnificent grace, that while men in their unrighteousness are unworthy of His goodness, Jesus still yet “died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6).

So, when Paul tells the Ephesus church their salvation is “by grace” and “not of works,” he’s saying they did not earn their redemption by their works. They could not “boast” as if they, instead of God, made it possible to be saved. Earn is the key word here. God did not owe it to them. Neither does He owe it to us. But by no means is Paul talking about performing a work required as a condition for receiving forgiveness. Baptism is essential, but not because a man earns eternal life by it, but simply because God chose it to be a condition (as is faith and repentance) we must meet. Man’s adherence to baptism does not make the death of Christ meaningless; neither does it somehow bypass His grace. Yes, the Lord’s death and the shedding of His blood is the basis of forgiveness, but baptism is a condition for receiving it. God has determined that baptism puts one “into [Christ’s] death” (Rom. 6:4) and “into Christ” (Rom. 6:4; Gal. 3:27).

Let’s be clear:those who reject baptism as a necessary work for salvation reject it on the basis that salvation is not earned by works, but the Bible teaches that baptism is necessary as a condition of the gift of salvation, and not as a means of earning it. By their “labor,” the Israelites did not earn the land given to them by God (Joshua 24:13), but God required certain labor as a condition for it, such as marching around the city walls of Jericho (Joshua 6) and engaging in warfare (Joshua 8:7). Performing works as a condition upon receiving something is a very different thing than having received it due to earning it by works. God provided the means for Noah be saved from the destruction of the flood by telling him how to build the ark, but the actual building of it was a required condition on Noah’s part. Certainly the building of an ark was a “work” that did not earn Noah salvation from worldwide destruction, but was nevertheless something God required of him.

Turning over to James 2, we see a different context, in which baptism’s necessity actually does have relevance, unlike Ephesians 2. James speaks not on what salvation is based upon (the blood of Christ), but rather what salvation requires on the part of man—obedience. It should be no surprise, then, that here, James teaches that justification is “by works” and not “faith alone” (v. 14, 20, 24). It’s all about context!

Not Of Yourselves

As Paul states, salvation is “not of yourselves” (v. 8). It was God who prepared the plan to send His beloved Son to die so that men, by believing and obeying Him, could be saved (Heb. 5:9). Salvation didn’t come from men. This is exactly what Paul affirms to the Ephesians. It wasn’t they who created the way of salvation; they didn’t derive a way to clean their own sins or construct their own path to God out of their own ideas—it was through God’s grace. Nevertheless, despite the understanding of most of the denominational world, this has nothing to do with whether or not baptism is necessary for salvation as a condition. Men did not dream up baptism; it didn’t come from them (thus they cannot boast in it). God thought of it, and it was He who laid it down as a provision: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). The forgiveness of sin is what saves a man (when a man’s sins are gone, he is no longer condemned), and this forgiveness is possible by Jesus’ death (Matt. 26:28), not baptism, but God chose baptism, when performed out of faith and a repentant heart, to be when this absolution takes place. In this respect, baptism “saves us” (1 Pet. 3:21).

Saved Through Faith

Furthermore, Paul writes that salvation is “through faith” (v. 8). Absolutely! Through faith a man obeys the gospel by repenting and being baptized. The Israelites believed God would bring down the walls of Jericho (as He said He would) if they adhered to His conditions—marching around the city, blowing their trumpets, and shouting (Joshua 6). Their faith led them to obey God’s requirements and “by faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days” (Heb. 11:30). The construction of the ark was a necessary condition for escaping the watery demise of the flood, which Noah’s faith “moved” him to do, so “by faith” Noah “prepared an ark to the saving of his house” (Heb. 11:7). It’s the same concept with baptism: we are saved “through faith” when that faith moves us to repent, confess Christ (Rom. 10:10; 1 John 4:15), and be baptized.

Multitudes of preachers blindly lead the blind with a false gospel saying baptism comes after salvation rather than before it. They are wrong. Men cannot earn their pardon, but they can look to Christ, obey the Gospel, and be saved. It is in baptism, that Christ forgives the sins of the man who has believed and has repented. So all in all, Christ is still doing the saving, not the water, and not the man. Baptism is certainly required, but this doesn’t nullify the fact, the absolute fact, that without the unobligated, unearned, undeserved grace of Jesus Christ in sacrificing Himself as a payment for our transgressions, no redemption could be possible anyhow. Thanks to God for His love and grace through Jesus Christ!

I Timothy 2:11-12 Applies To Secular Activities Also

December 5, 2012

Most believers correctly understand that when I Timothy 2:11-12 tells a woman not to “teach, nor to usurp authority over the man,” that restricts her from preaching a sermon to the church assembly (see also I Cor 14:34-35). But a failure to notice the context causes many to incorrectly limit I Tim 2:11-12’s application to the church assembly. Consider the following questions which help us to observe the context …

1. Is the church assembly mentioned anywhere in the whole chapter of I Timothy 2?

2. Should praying for all men and those in authority (vs.1-3) occur “only in the assembly”?

3. Are we supposed to lead “a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (verse 2) “only in the assembly”?

4. Are men saved (verse 4) “only in the assembly”?

5. Do men come to a “knowledge of the truth” (verse 4) “only in the assembly”?

6. Do men pray “every where” (verse 8) “only in the assembly”?

7. Are women to dress modestly (verse 9) “only in the assembly”?

8. Are women supposed to profess “godliness with good works” (verse 10) “only in the assembly”?

9. Are women to be in “subjection” to men (verse 11) “only in the assembly”? (think wife/husband at home as an example here)

10. Does “childbearing” (verse 15) occur “only in the assembly”?

11. Are “faith and charity and holiness with sobriety” (verse 15) to be practiced “only in the assembly”?

If the answer to all 11 questions above is no, why would it be true that women are forbidden from teaching or usurping authority over the man (verse 12) “only in the assembly”?

Since the context applies I Tim 2:11-12 to “every where” (spiritual and secular activities), we should do the same. If we can see I Tim 2:11-12 forbids a woman from teaching a class of men when the topic is the Bible, then we ought to be able to see the non-spiritual parallel: I Tim 2:11-12 also forbids a woman from teaching a class including men when the topic is secular (like a college mathematics class). If we can see I Tim 2:11-12 shows a woman should not be a boss over men in a church capacity (meaning she cannot be an pastor/elder), then we ought to be able to see the secular parallel: I Tim 2:11-12 also shows that a woman cannot be a boss over men in a secular capacity. She should not be a mayor, a governor, President of the USA, nor should she be a boss over men at any secular job.

Many decades ago the Biblical view presented in this message was accepted by most every Christian. The woman’s liberation movement squelched it. But the Bible hasn’t changed. I close with this point … If verses 9-10 (dressing modestly) applies at the university and in the workplace, why wouldn’t the very next two verses apply there also?