Acts 17:11 reads "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Obviously this is a highly approved example – intended for us to follow (Hebrews 6:12). The gospel is to be preached (Mark 16:15) and it is the responsibility of the listener (any listener) to examine what is said, comparing it with the scriptures to verify if it is really so. If it does concur with God’s word, it is our obligation to comply. If it does not concur, we are not to pay it any mind. Acts 17:11 teaches this verification process on our part is to occur regularly. And we have to possess enough courage to run counter to our parents, friends, anybody around us (Luke 14:26) if that is where the truth leads (John 8:32). Are we willing to do such? Are we studying God’s word as we ought?
Archive for December, 2013
Many say all you have to do is “accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior” (believe in Jesus) to be saved. But if that is true, why do we have New Testament examples of “unsaved believers” – those that believed in Jesus but were not saved? Here are just a few of such cases …
John 8:30 As He spake these words, many believed on him
v.31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him
v.44 Ye are of your father the devil
John 12:42-43 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
James 2:19 the devils also believe, and tremble
Acts 9:5-6,9 / 22:16 Saul/Paul was a believer for at least three days before his sins were washed away.
Obviously then the Bible does not teach salvation by “faith only” (James 2:24).
I have been asked several times through the years why I left the Baptist Church. My answer is that it was not just because of one thing, but it involved several issues and most importantly, an attitude. As a general rule, Baptist people are not as diligent and careful in their study of God’s word as they should be (and some so called Christians are like that too), and this leads to many false teachings. Two of these false teachings were at the forefront of my decision to leave the Baptist church in November of 1981.
The Baptist church emphasizes you must “accept Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour” to be saved. This is true enough if you understand that they mean by this phrase the same as what Philip meant when he said in Acts 8:37 “If thou believest with all thine heart.” The problem is Baptists say this is all you have to do, excluding the necessity of water baptism (in order to salvation) in their teaching. Many texts (for example Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, and I Peter 3:21) show clearly that a person does have to be baptized to be saved. I think Baptists are too wedded to their system of “faith only” to accept the plain meaning of these passages. After diligently studying this issue for about three years, I determined that I must change and follow what the scriptures actually say on the purpose of water baptism, instead of continuing to follow what I had always been taught.
Another major issue I studied in-depth in the period leading up to my conversion was the “once saved always saved” question. Countless passages (for example Galatians 5:2,4, II Peter 2:20-22, Hebrews 3:1,12, Revelation 3:5, and James 5:19-20) show that a Christian can “fall from grace,” and that when a Christian sins he must repent to be forgiven (Acts 8:22, I John 9). My opinion is that most Baptists continue to hold on to their false “once saved always saved” position because it makes them feel more comfortable. They don’t ever want to have to worry about losing their salvation – no matter how they live. In actuality, the Baptist way is a de-emphasis upon obedience to God, whereas God’s way most certainly requires our obedience (Matthew 7:21, Hebrews 5:9).
But as I said, these two issues are just a symptom of the problem. Diligent Christians struggle with different aspects of Biblical teaching such as withdrawal (I Corinthians 5), the covering (I Corinthians 11:2-16), divorce and remarriage questions (Matthew 19:9), and etc. The majority of Baptists completely ignore these issues and therefore any difficulties in their implementation are moot for them. This attitude is the underlying reason why I left the Baptist church. I am very thankful to the many who helped me see the error of my way during those years.
I Corinthians 11:16 reads “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” Some say that verse teaches God’s covering instruction was just a custom of that time and locality, and is therefore not binding today. But if we examine what is being said in verse 16 carefully, that is not Paul’s point. Instead I Cor 11:16 is saying if a man would contend against God’s covering teaching, the apostles and all the churches had no such custom/practice as the contentious man’s. “Such” would naturally refer back to the last thing mentioned, that is, the contentious man’s custom/practice. For example, if I said “Keith is bald but I have no such problem,” who has the problem – Keith or me? Likewise since Paul said “we have no such custom,” who does have the custom? So Paul specifically said the custom in question was NOT his own.
Paul went on to say in I Cor 14:37 “the things I write unto you are the commandments (not the etiquette, ptd) of the Lord.” I like how Jeff Smelser put it “It makes no sense at all to suppose that, after arguing [for 14 verses, ptd] from the relationship of God to Christ, Christ to man, and man to woman, and from the order of creation, Paul would finally dismiss the importance of the whole thing saying in essence, “if you don’t like what I’ve said, that’s alright, because it’s really all just a man-made custom.”
So far from teaching the covering was just cultural in nature, I Corinthians 11:16 actually teaches the practice of wearing the covering was uniform throughout all the churches everywhere, and was not just a local custom. Compare to:
· I Corinthians 4:17 as I teach every where in every church
· I Corinthians 7:17 And so ordain I in all churches
· I Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints
Just a local practice? Just the opposite. I Cor 11:2-16 was written “unto the church of God which is at Corinth … with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (1:2), that is, ALL CHRISTIANS!