Even casual discussions with friends and loved ones who are outside of the churches of Christ can reveal a very strange mythology that has developed around them.
They are sometimes mischaracterized, maligned, and ostracized on the basis of misunderstood or poorly explained practices. Not all the criticisms, of course, are unfair or false, even if the scriptural basis for the differences among us goes unexplored. It is the mythology about churches of Christ that concerns us now, the kind of thing one hears about them from those operating according to ignorance or malice. Continue reading » Legends of the Churches of Christ
Every believer should be familiar with the words of Christ as they touch on the sentencing phase of Judgment Day. Where the wicked will hear, “Depart me from me all you workers of iniquity,” the faithful hope to be told, “Well done, good and faithful servant. … Enter into the joys of your lord.”
Perhaps, we are sometimes led to believe it doesn’t matter what we do at all, even in regard to our soul’s salvation, but the sentence of Christ surely emphasizes it is more blessed to do well than to work iniquity. There are many spiritual blessings to be found in Jesus, but those that are eternal are the ones that only the worthy obtain–not by worth of personal merit, but by the interaction of faith and grace. Heaven is a prize, a gift, a reward, an inheritance and a a treasure. Thus it is an objective worth striving after and one which only the faithful and few will attain. Continue reading » Worthy to Obtain
One of the only creed books I have in my library is J.M. Pendleton’s Baptist Church Manual. On page 47 of that little book, Pendleton states: “We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace.” Only one page later, he likewise affirms that justification is “solely through faith in the Redeemer’s blood.”
So, we are told that we are saved “wholly” by the grace of God, then in the next breath that we are justified (a word that indicates the very same thing), “solely” through faith in Christ.
Even a small child can understand that salvation can’t be wholly of one thing and solely of another.
Continue reading » Video Script: Are We Saved by Faith Only? (6)
The Old Testament tells us about a preacher (prophet) who lied to a younger man (1 Kings 13). The lie was told in all good conscience. It was told with the intent of helping the young man (1 Kings 13:11-19). The young man believed the lie, benefited in an earthly way, but ended up losing his life (1 Kings 13:20-28). Thus, we know that religious leaders will sometimes tell a lie with the best intentions. We also know that religious followers will sometimes believe a lie.
How could the young man have avoided being killed by the lion? He could have rejected the lie. How could he know the lie was a lie? If he had stopped to consider that he knew what God revealed to him and what the old prophet said was contrary to it — let God be true and every man a liar (cf. Romans 3:4).
Continue reading » Scripture Studies: Does Your Preacher Lie to You?
Due to the fact that you believe that you are saved in part or wholly by baptism, I must mark you as one still in darkness and as one who has not seen that we are complete in Jesus Christ and his finished work. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that we are saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves. What is it about that that you don’t understand? Paul said if it be works it is something that God owes us but grace is the gift of God which is faith. Larry, due to the fact that the Bible says that we are saved by grace through faith, and you say that it is by some work that we do like baptism, or any other thing, I would bid you to repent and trust in the finished work of Christ and nothing else but Christ and God will save you. I hope you will take this as a letter of love and may God have mercy on you.
By his grace, Frank L. McClanahan
Thank you for your letter and for your clarity of expression. I appreciate your willingness to state boldly what you believe. I trust that you will grant me the same right to respond with equal directness to your arguments.
(1) Baptism And The Finished Work Of Christ: Frank, suppose I were to say, "Due to the fact that you believe that you are saved in part or wholly by faith, I must mark you as one still in darkness and as one who has not seen that we are complete in Jesus Christ and his finished work," how would you answer me? Primitive (Hardshell) Baptists make the same argument against you as you have made against me. They do not believe that faith is essential to salvation. Thus, when you say that one must believe in Jesus, they will accuse you of not trusting "in the finished work of Jesus Christ." Tell me, Frank, how you would answer their charge?
Continue reading » Contending for the Faith: Salvation, Baptism and the Finished Work of Christ
IntroductionGod made man upright (Genesis 1:26,27; Ecclesiastes 7:29). Adam and Eve lived in perfect communion with God until sin separated them from Him (Genesis 3; Isaiah 59:1,2). When sin entered the picture, something else entered: A plan to save man. To the serpent, God said, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Sin made salvation necessary.
God purposed man’s salvation: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:3-6). Continue reading » Saved By Faith
To recap our study regarding the Scheme of Redemption, we note the following:
- God loved man, and sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross. This extension of God’s grace is the part that God plays in man’s redemption. Jesus died for the sins of all men. However, not all are saved.
- Since not all are saved, and yet Christ died for all, it is understood that man has some bearing on his own salvation. He has a part to play as well. If he does as God requires, then he will be saved. If he does not, then he will be lost.
- The part man plays in his own redemption is a logical sequence of response to the extended grace of God. The gospel is preached to him. It is the power of God to salvation (cf. Romans 1:16); He hears the gospel (cf. Romans 10:17), and it engenders faith. Faith in Christ is necessary for redemption (cf. Hebrews 11:6). This faith in Christ leads the sinner to respond to the commands of Christ to confess Him (cf. Romans 10:9-10), and to “repent and be baptized” (cf. Acts 2:38). At the point of baptism, a sinner’s sins are washed away (cf. Acts 22:16), and he rises to walk in newness of life as a child of God (cf. Romans 6:4). It is necessary for the new child of God to maintain his faithfulness throughout his life, and if he does, he will spend eternity in heaven (cf. Revelation 2:7).
- This study has discussed in detail that saving faith is faith that is accompanied by obedience. “…faith, by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).
- Also discussed in detail is the necessity of repentance. God demands “all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). The forgiveness of sins is predicated by a promise to turn away from that sin, and practice righteousness. Without that determination, redemption is not possible.
This leaves us with a discussion of baptism. Due to the origin of Prostestant denominationalism many have a problem understanding that baptism is necessary for redemption. Such a concept does violence to the protestant tradition of salvation by faith only. We have already shown such a concept to be invalid, and will now, through the scriptures, clearly show that one must be baptized in order to obtain salvation. Continue reading » Must I Be Baptized?
In our study we have already established that man is saved by the grace of God. We have also shown that man has certain responsibilities that must be met in order to obtain that Redemption. Paul showed this in his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 8-10, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Accepting that man must believe in order to be saved, we do not deny that we are saved by the grace of God. This is almost universally understood. If we accept men are saved by the grace of God, and yet not all are saved, we must accept that man plays a part in his own redemption. To believe otherwise would be to condemn the Almighty as a capricious God and a Respecter of persons. So, salvation is conditional. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Continue reading » Salvation by Faith
Martin Luther translated the Bible into the common language of his country in the early 1500’s. This act, coupled with his stance against certain practices of the Catholic Church, was genuinely courageous. That fact, however, doesn’t negate the false teaching he advocated. Luther compounded his error by presumptuously adding the word alone to the phrase “justified by faith” in his German translation of Romans.* His intent was to bolster his teaching that faith only was required for salvation. It speaks volumes that Luther was not satisfied with the Scriptures as they were written but felt the need to tamper with them. This same problem exists today in our English Bibles. A number are paraphrases rather than actual translations. As such they are men’s commentaries of the Scriptures which are being pawned off as Bibles to a largely unsuspecting public. Several religious groups have their own Bibles which change some of the original texts to teach their peculiar doctrines. Care needs to be taken even when selecting actual translations since the doctrinal biases or religious skepticism of some translators have crept into their work. Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: Romans and Salvation