Category Archives: Salvation

The Church of Christ Reverses the Order of Repentance and Faith

Repentance and Faith_01

SOURCE: The Church of Christ gospel “plan” is to hear, believe, repent, confess, and be “water” baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Here it is reasoned that if one will simply perform these “5 steps,” the believer will thereby save himself.

Notice that this plan places faith before repentance.

To those in the Churches of Christ, this is “common sense” because it is believed that ‘one must believe before he can repent.’ This view arises from their understanding of both “faith” and “repentance.”

“Faith” in the Churches of Christ is understood as nothing more than ‘intellectual assent” or accepting the facts of the Christian faith. To them it is believing God’s historical testimony about Himself, Jesus Christ, and that of the rest of the Bible.

Repentance on the other hand is understood as moral “self-reformation.”

In regards to faith, those in the Churches of Christ often fail to understand that there is a deeper, more substantive aspect of faith which is believing on Jesus Christ for eternal life, and most cannot distinguish between mere intellectual belief or assent from a personal faith that is trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

Here, they will cite that “even the devils believe” (from James 2:19) in their sermons and will contend that even the “faith of devils” is the same as any other faith except that the faith of devils lacks any moral or religious good works.

Thus, their understanding gives rise to their reversal of the scriptural order of repentance and faith, and yet as we will find, there is not a single scripture in the New Testament to support their view.

To the contrary, when we consider this in light of Scripture, we find repentance actually preceding Faith:
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Question: “What are the steps to salvation?”

Steps to Salvation puzzle button

SOURCE: Answer: Many people are looking for “steps to salvation.” People like the idea of an instruction manual with five steps that, if followed, will result in salvation. An example of this is Islam with its Five Pillars. According to Islam, if the Five Pillars are obeyed, salvation will be granted. Because the idea of a step-by-step process to salvation is appealing, many in the Christian community make the mistake of presenting salvation as a result of a step-by-step process. Roman Catholicism has seven sacraments. Various Christian denominations add baptism, public confession, turning from sin, speaking in tongues, etc., as steps to salvation. But the Bible only presents one step to salvation. When the Philippian jailer asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30-31).

Faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior is the only “step” to salvation. The message of the Bible is abundantly clear. We have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin, we deserve to be eternally separated from God (Romans 6:23). Because of His love for us (John 3:16), God took on human form and died in our place, taking the punishment that we deserve (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). God promises forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven to all who receive, by grace through faith, Jesus Christ as Savior (John 1:12; 3:16; 5:24; Acts 16:31).

Salvation is not about certain steps we must follow to earn salvation. Yes, Christians should be baptized. Yes, Christians should publicly confess Christ as Savior. Yes, Christians should turn from sin. Yes, Christians should commit their lives to obeying God. However, these are not steps to salvation. They are results of salvation. Because of our sin, we cannot in any sense earn salvation. We could follow 1000 steps, and it would not be enough. That is why Jesus had to die in our place. We are absolutely incapable of paying our sin debt to God or cleansing ourselves from sin. Only God could accomplish our salvation, and so He did. God Himself completed the “steps” and thereby offers salvation to anyone who will receive it from Him.

Salvation and forgiveness of sins is not about following steps. It is about receiving Christ as Savior and recognizing that He has done all of the work for us. God requires one step of us—receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and fully trusting in Him alone as the way of salvation. That is what distinguishes the Christian faith from all other world religions, each of which has a list of steps that must be followed in order for salvation to be received. The Christian faith recognizes that God has already completed the steps and simply calls on us to receive Him in faith.

http://www.gotquestions.org/steps-to-salvation.html

CHURCH OF CHRIST: What about James 2:24 and ‘not justified by faith only’?

ARE WE SAVED BY FAITH OR WORKS

SOURCE: Members of the Church of Christ will sometimes cite James 2:24 as ‘proof’ that the believer’s justification is not by faith alone.

Here they will point out that ‘this is the only passage in the Bible where these two words (faith & alone) come together, and the Bible is very clear when it says that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.’

Keep in mind that context of James 2:24 is dealing with Abraham, and this verse concerns the time when Abraham was about to offer up his son Isaac upon the altar.

And here James asks the rhetorical question, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?”
It is here that I’d like to pose a question as it relates to the context.
Is this passage talking about Abraham’s (forensic or legal) justification where God ‘deemed, or declared Abraham as righteous’, or is the passage talking about Abraham being justified (shown, deemed, or declared as righteousness) before men?

This is a very relevant question because Romans 4 tells us that Abraham was justified before God long before Isaac was even born,

And it wasn’t by his works, but rather by his faith!
The point of all this is that the justification found in James 2:24 concerns a completely different time, circumstance, and event, which was over 20 years after the justification where “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
James 2:24 says, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?”
Yes, Abraham was justified by his works-
But was he justified (shown, deemed, or declared “as righteous”) before God or before men?

Anyone who understands James 2:24 to be talking about Abraham’s legal or forensic  justification before God has a real problem, because when Paul talks about Abraham’s justification in Romans 4, he makes it very clear that justification before God is not by works:

For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”  Romans 4:3

Unless Scripture contradicts itself— and it doesn’t since it is God’s inerrant Word, James 2:24 cannot be talking about Abraham’s legal or forensic justification before God, but rather about being ‘shown, deemed, or declared as righteous’ before men.

Looking at the context, Abraham’s justification before men by works “fulfilled” his positional justification before God, which was by faith years before.
In other words, because of his faith God ‘deemed and declared Abraham as righteous’, and he was righteous in his position; this was a legal and binding act. However, when Abraham offered up Isaac, he was living his life experience before men in a manner that was consistent with his position.
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?  And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” James 2:21-24

But there’s another point that relates to the words only and alone.

The NKJV reads: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”

The Greek word translated only here is monon, which is an adverb.
Adverbs modify adjectives, verbs, or other adverbs.
Adverbs do not modify nouns.
Adjectives modify nouns.
We know that this is an adverb (monon) and not an adjective (monhs) since Greek has a different forms for each word.
Hodges makes this comment concerning the adverb monon used here in James 2:24
“The Greek adverb “only” (monon) … does not qualify (i.e., modify) the word faith, since the form would then have been monhs. As an adverb, however, it modifies the verb justified implied in the second clause [“and not only justified by faith”]. In other words, James is saying that a by-faith justification is not the only kind of justification there is. There is also a by-works justification. The former type is before God; the latter type is before men.” 
Thus, we might paraphrase the sense of Jas 2:24 in this way: ‘You see then that a man is justified by works, and not only justified by faith.’
Hodges also makes a helpful observation that this distinction is also found in Paul’s writings in Romans 4:2. The apostle tells us that there is such a thing as “works” justification before men, but not before God:
“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Thus, the only way a man can be justified before God is by faith.
References:
1) Zane C. Hodges, The Epistle of James: Proven Character Through Testing (Irving, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 1994), 71
2) Zane C. Hodges, The Gospel Under Siege: Faith and Works in Tension, Second Edition (Dallas: Redención Viva, 1992), 34

THE CULTS, Grace and Works by Craig Branch

CultTalk

A common question is “what makes a group a cult?” Of course one must consider deceptive, destructive practices and other deviations from orthodoxy, but the fundamental and fatal departure defining a cult is to err on the Person and work of Christ.

Paul defined it best when he warned about false teachers coming with “a different Jesus” and “another gospel” (II Corin. 11:3-4, 13-15; Gal. 1:6-9).

Peter defined “damnable heresies” as “denying the Lord that bought them,” which is denying the Person and work of Christ (II Peter 2:1-3).

How do most cults distort the gospel? They add works or obedience to commandments (law) as the prerequisite for justification or salvation.

The Bible is clear that eternal life is a pure gift, by grace, and man’s works or obedience cannot in any way satisfy God’s righteousness.

Grace plus works for salvation is like trying to mix oil and water; “and if, by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace,” (Romans 11:6).

“By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight,” (Romans 3:20).

In the epistle which directly responds to this issue, Paul clearly explains, “Even we have believed in Jesus Christ that we might be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law, for by works of the law shall no flesh be justified,” (Galatians 2:16; see also Ephesians 2:4-9; Titus 3:5-7).

God’s law, a reflection of His justice and righteousness, requires perfect obedience. One sin, whether by commission or omission, whether done with or without knowledge, separates man from God eternally (Romans 3:23; 6:23; Matthew 5:48; James 2:10; Galatians 3:10).

That is why Christ obeyed the law perfectly, meeting the requirement – so that His perfect record could be imputed to us when we trust only in Him – faith in Christ (I Corinthians 1:30; II Corinthians 5:21; Romans 10:1-4; 4:4-6).

How do the cults pervert the gospel? How do they fatally mix works with grace and in fact end up rejecting Christ? Most of them deny the full deity and humanity of Christ always resulting in a deficient “different gospel.”

For instance, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that there are four basic requirements needed to gain eternal life (Watchtower, February 15, 1983, pp.12-13).

The first is to be “taking in knowledge” which means that you must be participating in their “Bible studies” (actually Watchtower publication studies).

The second requirement is “to obey God’s laws, yes, to conform one’s life to the moral requirements set out in the Bible.”

The third is to “be associated with God’s channel, his organization” which in fact means that theirs, “the one true church,” is actually the co-savior.

The fourth is to “support his government by loyally advocating his kingdom rule to others.” This means one must go door to door witnessing and without ever balking or questioning a Watchtower edict.

Another blatant example is found in the Mormon basic textbook Gospel Principles.

The Mormon leaders state that the final judgment will be on the basis of works according to “those things which the Lord has commanded us to keep,” (pp. 283-284).

Then all will “be assigned to the kingdom we have earned” (p. 285; emphasis mine).

The Mormon leaders go on to teach that for eternal life one must be “obedient to all the commandments of the Lord,” (p. 290, emphasis mine).

They then list 22 of those requirements which include celestial marriage, total repentance of all wrong doings, speaking the truth always, baptisms for the dead, full tithe paying, and “keeping all the Lord’s commandments until the end of this life on earth,” (pp.291-292, emphasis mine).

Herbert W. Armstrong founder of the Worldwide Church of God claimed to be God’s apostle and like most cults claimed to restore the true Christian church.

He wrote in his major doctrinal work, Mystery of the Ages that in order to achieve salvation and progress to Godhood is to “do his commandments,” (p. 191).

Armstrong goes on to state that the “one test commandment is the fourth-keeping God’s Sabbath” which of course he insists must be Saturday.
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CHURCH OF CHRIST: How Does a Person Obey the Gospel

obey the gospel

SOURCE: How does a person obey the gospel?

In 1 Corinthians 15 the apostle Paul reminds us of what the gospel or Good News message is- that Jesus Christ came, died on the cross, paid the penalty for our sins, that He was buried, and that God raised Him from the dead-

“Christ died for OUR sins…that He was buried…that He was raised on the third day…this is what we preach…and this is what you believed.” 1 Cor. 15:3-11

This is the gospel.

Here both evangelical Christianity and the Church of Christ believe that the gospel message found in 1 Corinthians 15 is (or at least is part of) the gospel of Jesus Christ.

However biblically speaking, how does a person respond to or ‘obey’ the gospel?

Here the Church of Christ asserts that obeying the gospel means ‘being obedient to all the necessary moral and religious requirements of the New Testament’, or ‘obeying those commands one must do in order to be saved’.

And the difference between the saved and the unsaved according to the Church of Christ is whether or not a person has obeyed ALL OF THE NECESSARY moral and religious requirements of the New Testament.

However, when one looks into the Scripture and looks into the context of 1 Cor. 15 what it means to ‘obey the gospel’, we find that a person obeys the gospel when they believe the gospel message:

“This is what we preached, and this is what you believed” 1 Cor. 15:11

Consider the following passages:

“But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” Romans 10:16 (Note: They have not all obeyed because not all have believed)

“”You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” Galatians 5:7 (Note: The context of ‘being hindered from obeying the truth’ is that they had believed the lie that works of the law were also a requirment as faith in Christ)

“…Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Now that you HAVE purified yourselves by obeying the truth (i.e. by believing the message) love one another deeply, from the heart.” 1 Peter 1:21-22

“Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient…” 1 Peter 2:27 (Note: The contrast is being made between those who believe and those who are disobedient- i.e. those who refuse to believe)

So while we will see those in the Church of Christ go from one “obey” pretext verse to another to ‘prove’ we obey the gospel by being obedient to the necessary moral and religious requirements of the New Testament-

If we look at the context of theese verses to see what it means to ‘obey the gospel’, we find that we obey the gospel by believing the gospel message.

So what is the gospel?

Jesus Christ came to this earth, died on the cross, paid the FULL penalty for our sin, was buried, and that God raised Him from the dead.

This is the gospel.

God’s promise is that everyone who believes in Jesus Christ, trusting Him as their Savior, WILL NOT PERISH but has everlasting life.

So have you obeyed the gospel?

That is,

Have YOU believed God’s promise that Jesus Christ saves you?

* * *

“…If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that He has borne concerning His Son…And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son…Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life…I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:9-12

http://www.cofcdilemma.org/how_to_obey_the_gospel.aspx

CHURCH OF CHRIST: Preaching a Plan of Salvation instead of the Man Jesus Christ

steps of salvation

WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED? The Hardline Church of Christ says we have to do 6 steps to be saved, which includes turning from all your sin and living a faithful life until death – then your saved. BUT THE BIBLE SAYS Act 16:30-31 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)

I find that when many Church of Christ’ers talk about salvation or being saved, they do not even use or have the correct definition of save, saved or salvation in mind.

The terms in Hebrew, Greek and English predominantly means to deliver, to rescue from harm or danger, to deliver from sin, to preserve and protect. These actions come from outside of us. They are not something we do. We are merely recipients. Webster’s defines salvation as “the act of saving someone from sin or evil : the state of being saved from sin or evil”, “something that saves someone or something from danger or a difficult situation” and “deliverance from the power and effects of sin”. It was Christ “who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:4). Before the foundation of the world “… God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17).

Salvation is simply not about what we do, but rather what God and Jesus Christ has done on our behalf, delivering us from the wages of our sin – death. There is a plan of salvation. And with any plan there is doing involved. But we are not the ones that do the doing. As it has been said before, “Christ has done it all”. I would contend that salvation is simply belief/trust in Christ finished work for our saving/rescue – by his death, burial and resurrection for our sins, according to scripture. Salvation is not about doing or “obeying” “the whole plan of salvation”. It is about believing the plan of salvation. And the focus of that plan is on Jesus Christ and his actions, not ourselves. Biblical Christianity is not a do religion, it is a done religion.

That salvation is not about what we do is also strongly indicated by the biblical use of such terms as redemption (to purchase), reconciliation (restoration to divine favor), propitiation (the act by where which God‘s righteous wrath is satisfied by the atonement of Christ), atonement (restoration to divine favor), deliverance (from sin), ransom (from the wages of sin) and justification (a onetime event in which God justifies sinners by reckoning Christ’s righteousness to their account through a legal declaration). The definitions of these words and their usage in scripture show us that salvation is not something we do (Eph. 2:9, Jonah 2:9). Salvation is done on our behalf.

Scripture also says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans8:28-30). We cannot make ourselves right before or acceptable to God. It must for done for us by God. We cannot even come to Christ unless the Father draws us and even our faith is a gift and not of ourselves. Another reason we are not saved by what we do is that we are not saved by our righteousness, which is like filthy menstrual rags, but we are saved by being made the righteousness of God – which is a free gift to those who believe in Jesus Christ and His name.

It must also be remembered that God works covenantally and the bible is a covenant document. It was predetermined in an eternal covenant between the Father and the Son before the foundation of the world that Christ would be slain to take away sin for those whom the Father has given Him (Rev_13:8, Hebrews 13:20, John6:37-39, John 17:9-12, John 17:24, John 1:29). And because this contract agreement is between God the Father and God the Son we can rest assured that it will be fulfilled and that Jesus will indeed save and keep secure all those the Father has given him. We can rest in the fact that Christ has done it all for salvation and we are saved when we believe and trust in Him as the payment that the Father and Son made for the penalty of our sin.

How Justification by Faith Alone is misunderstood by the Churches of Christ

justification

SOURCE: Ask a member of the Church of Christ what the doctrine of justification by faith alone is, and they will most likely tell you ‘It is a doctrine teaching that a person can be saved simply by believing the basic facts or truths of the Christian faith.’ These facts may include believing in God, believing that the Bible is the Word of God, and believing the facts that Jesus died on the cross and rose again.

But here the Church of Christ member will often justify their rejection of this doctrine by saying, ‘But even the demons believe and of course this doesn’t do them any good whatsoever.’

Here it’s important to know that those who believe we are saved by personal faith in Christ do not believe salvation is merely by believing facts of the Christian faith, or by simply believing in some general way that Jesus lived, died on the cross and that He rose again.

Rather, we are believing God’s promise that Jesus Christ saves us.

That is, as Abraham “believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness”, we are also believing God’s promise that on the cross, Jesus took upon Himself and received in His body ALL of God’s wrath, anger, and righteous indignation for OUR sin, and that God punished Jesus (our substitute) so that He would NOT have to punish us, and raised Him from the dead.

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Baptismal Regeneration and Bible Salvation by Dennis Costella

baptismal regneration and salvation'

SOURCE: “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.” (Ephesians 2:8,9)

BAPTISMAL REGENERATION teaches that ritual, water baptism secures the forgiveness of sins and marks the moment at which the one being baptized is “born again,” or incorporated into the “Body of Christ.” It is generally understood to be the person’s “spiritual birthday,” the rite by which he becomes a “Christian.” Is this belief consistent with what the Bible says is true regarding God’s salvation?

There is only one Gospel that must be proclaimed to a lost and dying world! Gal. 1:6-12. Yet, a realistic look at the “Christian” scene today attests to the fact that there are many “gospels” preached. Each gives its own particular formula for what people must do to be saved. While each of these “gospels” claim that faith in Jesus Christ is important, some add baptism or other “commandments” as prerequisites to “the new birth.”

There is also the widespread practice of “easy believeism” whereby simple mental assent to the “Lordship of Christ” is deemed sufficient to obtain God’s salvation (without even specifying what one must believe about Jesus Christ in order to claim Him as “Lord!”). The convicting and enlightening ministry of the Holy Spirit through the clear, Biblical presentation of what God says one must believe in order to be saved is totally disregarded by this “numbers-oriented” form of evangelism.

A careful consideration of the Gospel as presented in the Bible is of tremendous importance. The salvation of lost souls is at stake! If the message we preach varies in the slightest from the revealed truth of God’s Word, then it is of Satan—not of God. There is a sad tendency today among many professing Bible believers to accommodate those who embrace a false gospel, supposedly for the sake of “unity” and “the spirit of love.” It is necessary, however, to stand firm on the Gospel of the Bible which teaches that there is only one way of salvation—and that by grace, through faith, alone!

Proponents of Baptismal Regeneration

The Roman Catholic Church was one of the earliest and most influential perpetrators of this error. Roman Catholic teaching most certainly has not changed in recent years either, nor has the “Charismatic Catholic” departed one iota from the belief that salvation is secured by ritual baptism into the Roman Catholic Church: Vatican Council II says, “The saving act of Jesus was applied to Mary in the moment of her conception; to us in our baptism…” (Lumen Gentium 1, 53); “…I have washed you clean and given you new life, my life in baptism [these were supposedly the words of Christ Himself]” (Prophecy from the 1988 Roman Catholic Charismatic Conference at Notre Dame). Rome teaches baptismal regeneration.

The Orthodox Churches also teach baptismal regeneration: “Baptism is a new birth. It is being born to the life made new by our Lord Jesus Christ. It means to be alive in Christ… Through Holy Baptism all become Christ’s. We become Christians and have the opportunity to inherit God’s Kingdom… Why in the world would any parents who claim to be Christians want to put off making their offspring Christians as soon as possible? Don’t they want their infants to share in the Kingdom of God? The baptized one becomes a member of Christ’s body—His Church” (Doctrine of the Russian Orthodox Church, ONE CHURCH, 1981).

Mormonism says you must be baptized in order to be saved: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, they who believe not on your words, and are not baptized in water in my name, for the remission of their sins, that they may receive the Holy Ghost, shall be damned, and shall not come into my Father’s kingdom where my Father and I am” (Mormon Doctrine and Covenants, nos. 84:74).

Seventh Day Adventism teaches baptism is the vehicle in procuring the forgiveness of sins: “Is it necessary for a person to be baptized to be saved? Answer: Yes, indeed!… A Christian is a newborn ‘babe’ in Christ. This is why the experience or conversion is called ‘the new birth.’ No past exists in God’s sight. It was buried in the watery grave of baptism…” (“Buried and Forgotten by God!”; a Seventh Day Adventist publication).

The Church of Christ, Episcopalians, and many Lutherans hold the false doctrine of baptismal regeneration in one form or another. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and many others could be added to this number, many within Protestantism included.

These groups invariably equate membership in their particular church with salvation itself. With notable consistency, religious bodies which profess to be “the one true church” incorporate ritual baptism as an essential step in their “What must I do to be saved” formula. It is claimed that by means of this ceremony one is introduced into the membership of the “church which alone can save.”

Every believer who has shared the Gospel of God’s saving grace with a Catholic knows the common reaction: “Of course I believe in Christ as my Saviour!” However, after further questioning, it becomes obvious that “belief” in Christ is not their sole confidence, for they believe that their continuance in faithfulness to “the church” and the sacraments of the church are also essential if there is to be any hope of obtaining everlasting life. That kind of “believing in Christ” is not the unconditional, absolute faith that produces Bible salvation.

Compromise Abounds

Efforts on the part of mainline Protestants and even “evangelicals” who have historically subscribed to “salvation by faith alone” to seek common ground with groups such as those listed above have resulted in a haziness with respect to the definition of the Gospel message itself. They will seemingly go to any length—even disregarding the essentials of the Gospel message itself—in order to avoid offence and make the baptismal regenerationist feel comfortable in Protestant/evangelical circles.

For example, notice the following representative statements from a few prominent religious leaders of our day who supposedly represent churches where “salvation by faith alone” is the standard. Note how they lend credence to religious groups such as those just mentioned which espouse the false gospel of baptismal regeneration:

“In two short decades, we have moved from the living room dialogue in which Protestants and Catholics were just discovering one another to be Christian, to widespread recognition of one another’s baptism” (Dr. Arie Brouwer, former General Secretary, National Council of Churches, spoken at the 1988 Arlington, Texas “Gathering of Christians”).

TIME magazine for 10/27/61 printed the following quote by Dr. Billy Graham: “I still have some personal problems in the matter of infant baptism, but all of my children with the exception of the youngest were baptized as infants. I do believe that something happens at the baptism of an infant, particularly if the parents are Christians … I believe that a miracle can happen in these children so that they are regenerated, that is, made Christian through infant baptism.”

Again, at Amsterdam ’86, Graham revealed the same strange thinking when asked by this writer how churches from such a broad spectrum of belief—those holding to a “works salvation” included—could be brought together for joint evangelistic outreach. Here is Graham’s answer: “Evangelism is about the only word we can unite on… Our methods would be different and there would be debates over even the message sometimes, but there is no debate over the fact that we need to evangelize… I think there is an ecumenicity here that cannot [be gotten] under any other umbrella.”

Bill Bright, president of Campus Crusade for Christ, gave a similar answer when we questioned him about Roman Catholic and Orthodox involvement at the Amsterdam ’86 conference: “The Holy Spirit of God is doing something unique in most major denominations—Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic… In all denominations I think there is a return to New Testament faith.”

The basic difference between the gospel preached by churches which advocate baptismal regeneration and those which do not is being rubbed out by today’s evangelical leaders. This is a very serious matter.

What is Essential for Salvation?

What is essential for salvation? Faith alone or faith plus water baptism, church membership, “good works” or whatever? This is a tremendously important consideration, for the “faith” of the former cannot possibly be the same “faith” as the latter. The sinner in need of salvation cannot be saved by a faith which stands alone as the sole requisite to the new birth, and also be saved by a faith to which another step or steps must be added in order to obtain the forgiveness of sins and the gift of everlasting life. To err at this point is to be eternally lost regardless of how sincere a person might be.

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The Bible versus the “Church of Christ” by James L Melton

Believe It or Not Yellow Logo copy

SOURCE: This article is a slightly condensed version of a small booklet that I wrote a few years ago. It’s purpose is to expose the false teachings of the so-called “Church of Christ.” If you attend a Church of Christ, or you know someone who does, I challenge you to read this study carefully, checking all of the scripture references in your Bible and praying for the Lord to show you the truth (Jn. 16:13). Remember, Jesus said SEEK and you shall FIND (Mt. 7:7).

What is the Church?

The Church of Christ people fail to realize that the “true church” is a spiritual organism, NOT a physical organization. In the tract, Introducing the Church of Christ, by Delton Haun (Haun Tract Co., Pasadena, TX.), we read on page 8 that, “The Lord promised only one kind and built only one kind–There is only one body (Eph. 4:4), and that one body is the church. (Col. 1:18)”

Here Haun isn’t referring to the SPIRITUAL body of Christ. He is referring to his own religious group, which he CALLS the body of Christ. He is referring to his particular group of people who believe and practice the same things, NOT a spiritual body of born-again believers.

This can be very confusing for an unsaved reader who knows not what it means to be born-again spiritually into the spiritual body of Christ (Jn. 3:3; I Cor. 12:13). The only “church” that the natural man can understand is a PHYSICAL church that he can see with his eyes. A natural man who has never been saved cannot understand how it is possible for people to be “born” into the spiritual body of Christ. Unfortunately, the Church of Christ people don’t understand it either.

On pages 9 and 10 of this same tract, Haun says that, “The church of Christ today is no more or no less than the New Testament church reproduced in doctrine and practice in this twentieth century.”

This is a common belief in the Church of Christ. Another tract titled, Are You Looking for a Church? (Exum Press, Crystal Lake, IL.), says on pages 11 and 12 that the Church of Christ people are actually going back and becoming members of the “original church that Christ built.” These people believe that the true Church ceased to exist for about seventeen centuries, and that THEIR church has restored the true faith for today. This would mean that such great Christian men as John Wesley, Martin Luther, John Knox, and George Whitfield were not really members of the “true church” because the “true church” didn’t exist in their lifetime.

There is absolutely NO SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT for this doctrine. In Matthew 16:18, the Lord Jesus Christ plainly said, “. . . . I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The true church has existed since the day Jesus started it. All throughout church history, millions upon millions have entered into the spiritual body of believers by receiving Christ as their Lord and Saviour (Jn. 1:12; Rom. 10:13). If you have received Jesus Christ as your Saviour, then you are a member of the true church, no matter WHAT denomination you are associated with, and if you haven’t received Him, then you are NOT a member of the true church, regardless of how many religious groups you join. Salvation is not in a church; it’s in a PERSON–the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Church Name

The Church of Christ claims to reserve for itself the ONLY scriptural name for a New Testament church, although the term “church of Christ” is found nowhere in the Bible.

On page 4 of George Baily’s pamphlet, Why I Am A Member of the Church of Christ (Lambert Book House, Shreveport, LA), we read these words: “Since the church belongs to Christ shouldn’t the church be so called? It is certainly scriptural to refer to the Lord’s body as the ‘church of Christ’.”

This is the result of human reasoning, not Bible study. There is nothing particularly wrong with the term “Church of Christ,” but it is wrong to insist that this is the ONLY scriptural name for the church when the term isn’t even found in the Bible! A Bookmark of Basic Bible References, by John Hurt (Hurt Publications, Smyrna, TN), gives several scripture references to “prove” that the term “church of Christ” is the only scriptural name for the church. The references listed on this bookmark are Romans 16:16, Acts 4:12, Matthew 16:18, Philippians 2:9-10, Isaiah 62:2, and Colossians 3:17. The term “church of Christ” is found NOWHERE in any of these references, because the Lord never specified a special name for the church. The disciples were first called “Christians” at Antioch (Acts 11:26), but a specific name is never given to the church itself.

Music in the Worship Service

According to the Church of Christ, it is unscriptural to use musical instruments in worship services. Only vocal singing is allowed. On page 4 of Surprising things about the church of Christ, by Dub McClish (Valid Publications, Denton, TX), we are told the following: “The apostle Paul wrote the following instruction on this subject: ‘Speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord’ (Eph. 5:19). In a parallel passage he wrote: ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God’ (Col. 3:16). Please notice that this is activity in which all of the assembled worshippers are to be involved. Just as no one can do our praying, studying, or giving for us, no one can do our singing for us.”

To what “assembled worshippers” do you suppose Mr. McClish is referring? In Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, the apostle Paul is instructing Christians in matters pertaining to their PERSONAL FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST, not worship services. The Church of Christ is very quick to quote these two verses OUT of their proper context, ignoring the two chapters in which they are found. Neither chapter speaks of “assembled worshippers,” and neither chapter forbids musical instruments.

The Church of Christ position is that we are FORBIDDEN to use instruments in worship because the New Testament does not specifically AUTHORIZE us to use them. L.R. Wilson’s tract, The New Testament Church – It’s Music in Worship (Haun Publishing Co.) says the following: “In our efforts to follow the Lord Jesus Christ we are not governed by what He did not forbid, but by what He has authorized.”

This is unscriptural logic. There are MANY things that are used in worship services that are not specifically authorized by the Lord Himself. For example, HYMNALS, MICROPHONES, and PITCH PIPES are not authorized in the Bible, but the Church of Christ still uses them in their worship services. There are many things that the Bible doesn’t specifically authorize, but this doesn’t mean they are forbidden! God gave us all a BRAIN to use when making decisions about such matters, and He has sealed real Christians with His Holy Spirit to lead and guide them in their decision making. One who insists on looking for specific authorization in all things is one who insists on IGNORING the leadership of the Holy Spirit of God, for the scriptures do not specifically mention all things.

The Bible is very clear in stating that the Lord loves good music of praise and worship, and this DOES include musical instruments. Please check the following references in your Bible and see for yourself. In fact, you will even see that three of these references have musical instruments IN HEAVEN! The references are: Psa. 33:2-4, I Chron. 25:5-6, II Sam. 6:5, I Chron. 16:42, Neh. 12:27, Rev. 5:8, 14:2, 15:2, and Psa. 150.

The Lord’s Supper

Like the Roman Catholics, the Church of Christ places far too much emphasis on the Lord’s Supper. In the pamphlet, What is Expected of Me as a Member of the Church of Christ? (Standard Publishing Co., Cincinnati, OH.), Fred Gardner tells us on page 20 that, “Fidelity to this service almost invariably results in a continuance of a fervent spirit for the Lord and his work. It helps maintain us in our ‘first love’ (Rev. 2:4), and to keep us doing the ‘first works’ (Rev. 2:5). When week by week we visualize the broken body and the shed blood of the Master for our sins and the sins of those about us, we do not fall away from a fervent love for Him and an earnest working for the Salvation of those about us–the ‘first love’ and the ‘first works’.”

Now we agree fully that a Christian needs to labor to keep the “first love” and to do the “first works” for the Lord, but this has NOTHING to do with the Lord’s Supper! Revelation 2:4-5 say nothing–ABSOLUTELY NOTHING–about the Lord’s Supper.

Notice Mr. Gardner’s comments about having to “visualize the broken body and the shed blood of the Master” in order to stay in fellowship with Him. Where in the Bible are we told that our fellowship with Christ is based on our visualizing his body and blood? The Bible tells us to walk by FAITH, not by SIGHT (II Cor. 5:7)! Friend, you can observe the Lord’s Supper fifty-two weeks a year, but if you haven’t been born again then you’re lost and going to Hell, and if your sins aren’t being confessed to the Lord regularly, then you are OUT of fellowship with Him, in spite of your faithfulness to the Lord’s Supper (Jn. 3:1-7; I Jn. 1:1-10).

Mr. Gardner also tries to lead his readers to believe that Christians are to observe the Lord’s Supper EVERY WEEK. Does the Bible teach this? No, it does not. If you’ll read Matthew 26:26-28 and I Corinthians 11:23-26, you will be reading what the Bible has to say about the Lord’s Supper, and you will see nothing at all about observing it on a “week by week” basis. I Corinthians 11:26 says, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” It is doubtful that God expects us to interpret the words “as often as” to mean “week by week”.

So how did the Church of Christ come up with their “week by week” observance? Simply by perverting the scriptures! For example, let’s take a look at page 9 of “Why I Am A Member of the Church of Christ,” by George Baily. Mr. Baily says that, “The Bible tells us that upon the first day of the week the disciples came together to break bread (Acts 20:7). Since the Lord said that the Lord’s Supper was observed upon the first day of the week, we gather that this was a weekly affair.”

Mr. Baily just told you that THE LORD said that the Lord’s Supper was observed on the first day of the week. Read it again. Now tell me, WHERE exactly did the Lord say that? I’d be delighted to have any Church of Christ member show me WHERE and WHEN the Lord said that. You say, “He said that in Acts 20:7.” He DID? I thought He said that they came together to BREAK BREAD, not to observe the Lord’s Supper. Mr. Baily wants you to think the two are the same, but they are NOT the same.

Also he didn’t tell you that the original Lord’s Supper was observed at NIGHTTIME (Mt. 26:31), and that it was NOT observed on the first day of the week (Sunday). He also forgot to tell you that the practice of BREAKING BREAD was done on a DAILY basis from house to house, not on a weekly basis in the Church of Christ. You find this information in Acts 2:46, and you’ll also find that MEAT was involved, not just bread and wine. Why? Because it wasn’t the Lord’s Supper.

There is no specific day in which Christians are told to observe the Lord’s Supper, and nowhere in the Bible are we told to observe it on a weekly basis. The Lord loves His church and He gives us liberty (II Cor. 3:17) to make certain decisions for ourselves. This is evident in the fact that Paul wrote “as often as” in I Corinthians 11:26.

Resurrections and Judgments

The Church of Christ believes in a GENERAL resurrection and judgment for all people, both saved and lost at the same time. This perversion of truth is known as A-Millennialism (No Millennium). The first seven verses of Revelation chapter twenty speak of a coming one thousand year reign of Christ and His saints on this earth. This reign immediately follows the Second Coming of Christ, which occurs in Revelation 19:11-21.

A-Millennialism cannot be correct, because Revelation 20:1-7 clearly tells us that there WILL BE a one thousand year reign. To say that there will be no Millennium is to simply DENY the word of God.

True Bible-believers take the Pre-Millennial view, which is the correct view, according to the word of God. Notice the order of events in Revelation: The Church Age ends at 3:22, and the church is not mentioned again until 22:16. John’s going up to Heaven in 4:1-2 pictures the calling out of the Christians, immediately following the Church Age of chapters two and three ( The church’s departure from the earth is also mentioned in I Thess. 4:13-18 and I Cor. 15:51-52). Revelation chapters 6 through 18 cover the Tribulation period that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 24:21. This is when the Antichrist will rise to power and deceive those who were not caught up to meet the Lord because they were not true believers (I Thess. 4:16-18, Lk. 17:35-36, II Thess. 2:11). Then the first ten verses of Revelation 19 cover the events in Heaven immediately preceding the Lord’s Second Coming, which follows in verses 11 through 21. After that, we see the one thousand year reign of Christ and His saints showing up in 20:1-7. This is the promised Kingdom of the Old Testament (Isa. 2:1-4; Dan. 7:27). Satan is doomed in Revelation 20:10. The wicked are judged at the White Throne Judgment in verses 11-15 and cast into the lake of fire. Eternity begins with chapters 21 and 22. Now this is the order in which the Lord reveals these events to us. If He’d intended for us to adapt some other interpretation then He’d surely have told us. The Bible is perfectly clear in stating that the 1000 year reign of Christ will come immediately AFTER the Second Coming. Anyone can see that.

Now read this incredible remark by a Church of Christ author: “The Bible certainly does not teach that there will be a 1000 year period AFTER the second coming of Christ.” This comes from page 1 of The Rapture, Tribulation, and Pre-Millennialism, by Grover Stevens (Stevens Publications, Lubbock, TX.). He arrives at this false conclusion by perverting II Peter 3:9-10 and saying that “the day of the Lord” means “the day of his coming,” meaning ONE SPECIFIC DAY in which the Lord returns and burns up the world, leaving no time frame for a 1000 year reign on the earth.

Did you notice that Mr. Stevens doesn’t say anything at all about II Peter 3:8? He IGNORES verse 8 and quotes verses 9 and 10 OUT OF CONTEXT. Why did he skip verse 8? Because verse 8 INCLUDES the 1000 year reign!! Verse 8 tells us that one day is as a THOUSAND YEARS in God’s eyes, so the “day of the Lord” can very well INCLUDE the 1000 year reign! The Church of Christ ASSUMES that the “day of the Lord” is only a 24 hour day, but the Bible never says this a single time. Therefore, the “day of the Lord” can begin with the Second Coming and end a thousand years later with the White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15.

How do we know this is so? That’s easy. Revelation 20:5 (which is NEVER quoted by the Church of Christ) speaks of a “first resurrection” for the Christians BEFORE the 1000 year reign. Lost people are not brought up to the White Throne Judgment until AFTER the 1000 year reign in Revelation 20:11-15, and this is called the “second death.” So there is a “first resurrection” for the saved BEFORE the Millennium, and there is a “second death” for the lost AFTER the Millennium.

The saints are resurrected BEFORE the Millennium so they can reign with Christ DURING the Millennium, but the Church of Christ OMITS the Millennium altogether, making the First Resurrection and the Second Death one and the same. By doing this they create a “general judgment” for everyone, which is entirely unscriptural.

Water Baptism and Salvation

Of the many heresies taught by the Church of Christ, Baptismal Regeneration is probably the most well known, and also the most harmful. This is the ancient pagan belief that a person must be baptized in water in order to receive cleansing from sin and the right to enter Heaven.

Let’s begin with page 2 of Delton Haun’s tract, Must One Be Baptized to Go to Heaven? Haun says the following: “As we begin this brief study let us note the question concerns us, not Abraham, nor the thief on the cross. These men lived and died in past ages before Christ’s death and before the terms of pardon were announced publicly on the day of Pentecost for all who lived in the Christian age.”

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IS SALVATION SOMETHING WE DO, SOMETHING GOD DOES OR BOTH?

salvation is freeI find that when many talk about salvation or being saved, they do not even use or have the correct definition of save, saved or salvation in mind.

The terms in Hebrew, Greek and English predominantly mean to deliver, to rescue from harm or danger, to deliver from sin, to preserve and protect. These actions come from outside of us. They are not something we do. We are merely recipients.

Webster’s defines salvation as “the act of saving someone from sin or evil : the state of being saved from sin or evil”, “something that saves someone or something from danger or a difficult situation” and “deliverance from the power and effects of sin”. Strong’s defines Salvation in the Greek as “G4991 sōtēria Feminine of a derivative of G4990 as (properly abstract) noun; rescue or safety (physically or morally): – deliver, health, salvation, save, saving”. And in Hebrew Strong’s defines Salvation as “H3444 yesh-oo’-aw Feminine passive participle of H3467; something saved, that is, (abstractly) deliverance; hence aid, victory, prosperity: – deliverance, health, help (-ing), salvation, save, saving (health), welfare”.

It was Christ “who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:4). Before the foundation of the world “… God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). Salvation is simply not about what we do, but rather what God and Jesus Christ has done on our behalf, delivering us from the wages of our sin – death. There is a plan of salvation. And with any plan there is doing involved. But we are not the ones that do the doing.

As it has been said before, “Christ has done it all”. I would contend that salvation is simply belief/trust in Christ finished work for our saving/rescue – by his death, burial and resurrection for our sins, according to scripture. Salvation is not about doing or “obeying” “the whole plan of salvation”. It is about believing the plan of salvation. And the focus of that plan is on Jesus Christ and his actions, not ourselves. Biblical Christianity is not a do religion, it is a done religion.

That salvation is not about what we do is also strongly indicated by the biblical use of such terms as redemption (to purchase), reconciliation (restoration to divine favor), propitiation (the act by where which God‘s righteous wrath is satisfied by the atonement of Christ), atonement (restoration to divine favor), deliverance (from sin), ransom (from the wages of sin) and justification (a onetime event in which God justifies sinners by reckoning Christ’s righteousness to their account through a legal declaration). The definitions of these words and their usage in scripture show us that salvation is not something we do (Eph. 2:9, Jonah 2:9). Salvation is done on our behalf.
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CHURCH OF CHRIST MYTH: Baptism is shown in every case of conversion in the book of Acts

Book-of-Acts-on-fire-LARGE-with-Of-the-Apostles-text

Baptism is shown in every case of conversion in the book of Acts.

This is just not true. Here are nine instances of conversion or salvation in the book of Acts without reference to baptism. So no one can rightfully claim salvation in Acts includes baptism and baptism is required for salvation.

Acts 3:1-4:4 – Peter and John where preaching at the temple (3:1) and in verse 19 the people are told “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord”. And in Acts 4:4 about 5000 believed. There is no mention of baptism.

Acts 5:1-14 – After Ananias and Sapphira where struck down by the Lord, fear came upon the people (v.11) and many signs and wonders were wrought among them (v.12), as a result multitudes where added to the Lord. Act 5:14 “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women”. There is no mention of baptism.

Acts 9: 32-35 – After Peter healed a certain man with palsy “…all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord” (V. 35) There is no mention of baptism.

Acts 11:19-24 – After preaching Jesus in Antioch (v.20) a great number believed and turned to the Lord (v.21) and were added to the Lord (v. 24). There is no mention of baptism here except in verse 16 and that is referring to John’s baptism by water and the baptism with the Holy Ghost. And that happened before Barnabus arrived in Antioch.

Acts 13:6-12 – Sergius Paulus desired to hear the word of the Lord. Then by the hand of the Lord Paul blinded him for a season. Then he believed being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord. There is no mention of baptism.

Acts 13:42-52 – Paul and Barnabus where preaching in the synagogue to the gentiles “And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (v. 48). There is no mention of baptism.

Acts 14:1 – “And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.” Another multitude, this time a great one, believed and there is no mention of baptism.

Acts 17:10-12 – Paul and Silas were preaching the word in the synagogue in Berea, and “many” believed. There is no mention of baptism.

Acts 17:22-34 “Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among them which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them”. There is no mention of baptism.