Index by Subject

Legends of the Churches of Christ

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

How are People Saved? A Study of Galatians 3

The question, “How are people saved from the consequences of their sins,” is answered in Galatians chapter 3.  God revealed to Abraham that justification is by faith far before doctrines such as circumcision, Calvinism, Mormonism, Islam, or denominational-ism in general came to be.  When someone tells you that you must “Say the sinner’s prayer” or “Accept Jesus into your heart to be saved” know that before these doctrines came to exist the word of God said, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness” (Galatians 3:6).  All who emulate the faith of Abraham today are made righteous by the blood of Christ.  Galatians chapter 3 demands that we understand the faith of Abraham that we too can be justified.  Secondly, Galatians 3 demands that we respect the authorized word of God and never change it by adding or subtracting from it. Continue reading » How are People Saved? A Study of Galatians 3

Obtaining Mercy

I had the chicken pox when I was about six years old and I can still recall the horrible, Jobian itching that resulted. In my memory as well, however, is the soothing sensation of that lotion which was applied by my mother to the sores on my back and chest, which eased the misery until the illness was gone.

Most everyone realizes our souls often contract a disease just as painful to the conscience, the disease of sin. What will soothe our misery then? The answer is nothing but the unparalleled mercy of God, wrought through the death and resurrection of our savior and his son, Jesus Christ (Romans 7:24-25). Continue reading » Obtaining Mercy

The Grace of God

A good way to begin our study would be to define the word grace.  Grace is defined as, “Favor, goodwill for or toward another… to confer a favor on one” (Liddell & Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon page 882).  Moulton’s Greek English Lexicon defines grace as “a beneficial opportunity, generous gift, an act of favor, gracious provision” (Page 433).  Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon defines grace as “kindness or favor which bestows upon one what he has not deserved” (page 666).  The word “favor” is the common denominator in understanding the word grace.  God has done a great favor for man.  What is this favor all about? Continue reading » The Grace of God

Video Script: Are We Saved by Grace? (5)

One of the primary and clear teachings contained in the New Testament is that God saves us by His grace. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9, “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.”

No man can be saved without God’s grace. In fact, if any man depends upon any other means of salvation, he forfeits his standing with God. Some Jewish Christians, in Paul’s day, did just that in their insistence upon keeping the Old Law. Paul wrote of them, “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4).

Continue reading » Video Script: Are We Saved by Grace? (5)

5 – Are We Saved by the Grace of God?

Walking Worthy: Sufficient Grace

“You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord — that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”

James wrote these words 1900 years ago to Christians whose patience was being tested by a variety of hardships (5:11). Inspiration counseled them to wait for the coming of the Lord to sort everything out and to administer justice that could be neither bought nor bartered.

Job was a prosperous man with a happy family and a strong faith, not unlike the greater number among us today. While not many are as wealthy as Job, most all of us are participating to some degree in this nation’s boom. Yet the devil, ever man’s adversary, perceived that Job’s faith was not so much spiritual as physical. He asserted that Job only had time and room for faith because God had built a hedge around him with things. Satan believed that faith would fail if this hedge were trimmed.

Continue reading » Walking Worthy: Sufficient Grace

Grace

In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul succinctly stated the means by which man is saved:

“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” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Though a simple passage, these words of Paul have been twisted by many to say something Paul never intended to say about the grace of God.  Without going into detail concerning John Calvin’s theories on the sovereignty of God, or Martin Luther’s rejection of James 2, we will simply state that Paul here affirms salvation by grace, but does not intend to deny the necessity of man’s obedience to God.

Continue reading » Grace

"What is Written … How Readest Thou?": The Inward Conflict – Who Is Described?

Examining Romans 7:7-25

To say that this passage has been the occasion for much debate is an understatement. The fact that it is a difficult passage, regardless of the interpretation defended, is a truth to which all serious students would readily agree. In this brief study, we cannot raise all of the questions posed about this text, much less take the space required to reason towards answering all of those questions. We will, however, try to lay a foundation needed to properly understand the main points. For a detailed study, Whiteside’s commentary gives an excellent examination of this text.

The apostle Paul began the epistle to the Romans by affirming that the Gospel is God’s power to save those who respond in faith to that message. He then shows that all are in need of that salvation because all have sinned beginning with the Gentiles and then concentrating on the Jews (Romans 1:18 – 2:20). The next two chapters emphasize the themes of faith and grace as they relate to the justification of the sinner through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This point is also made with special emphasis to the Jews. Up to that point in the book, the writer stresses the need for, and nature of God’s action in salvation.

Continue reading » "What is Written … How Readest Thou?": The Inward Conflict – Who Is Described?

Walking Worthy: Am I Good Enough?

So many Christians are burdened with the fearful question, “Am I good enough for God, good enough to go to heaven, good enough not to embarrass the church and my family? Am I as good as others? Am I as good as I can be?”

While those questions are surely superior to the spiritual indifference that some Christians harbor, they can also become an unbearable burden. Our human imperfections — minor and major, regular and occasional — stare us in the face through God’s revelation and constantly remind us what kind of people we are (James 1:23-24). We are all flawed by our own particular sins and weaknesses and in need of grace, both from our fellow men and more importantly, from God. The questions, though, are not seeking grace; they are seeking human achievement and earned reward. Those questions will invariably lead to painful answers.

Continue reading » Walking Worthy: Am I Good Enough?

No Law

Authors:  Bobby Holmes and Mark Roberts

I. Error

    • 1. “We are under grace, not law. We must not depend on what we do, but on God.”
      1. Romans 6:14-15
      2. Galatians 3:11
  • A. Neo-Calvinists say:B. Passages Misused:

Continue reading » No Law

Only Grace

Authors: Bobby Holmes and Mark Roberts

I. Error

    • 1. “Salvation is by grace alone”
      1. Romans 4:1-5; 11:6
      1. Watch them say “grace only” whenever you talk about obedience, but then say “one must believe”
      2. Which is it – grace only or grace and faith?
      3. See John 6:29
  • A. Neo-Calvinists B. Passages Misused

    C. Red Flag:

Continue reading » Only Grace

Associate Editorial: How Was Christ ‘Made to be Sin’?

One aspect of Calvinistic doctrine is the three-fold error whereby it is taught that (1) Adam’s sin was transferred to mankind; (2) man’s sin was transferred to Christ; and (30) Christ’s personal righteousness was transferred to believers. None of these statements are true nor do they reflect accurately the Bible doctrine of “imputation.” In this article we will note the second of these errors and study the claim that the sins of mankind have been transferred to Christ.

A verse often used in this context is 2 Corinthians 5:21: “Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” The phrase “he made to be sin” is the controversial part of the text and one that is grossly misused. We need to understand in what sense God made Christ “to be sin.” Did God place our sins on Christ? Would that make Christ a sinner? Did Christ die a spiritual death as well as a physical death on the cross? Just what is meant? As in all studies, we need to consider all that the Bible says and not take one verse to mean something that would contradict other Bible passages.

Continue reading » Associate Editorial: How Was Christ ‘Made to be Sin’?

Voices from the Past: “The Perfect Law of Liberty” (Cecil Willis)

The New Testament writer, James, said, “But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing” (James 1:25). There are several important lessons to be learned from this passage.

(1) IT IS A “LAW.” This body of truth which is the source of all pure religion is here called a “law.” There are some who would have us to believe that the Old Testament had law, but no grace; and that the New ,Testament has grace, but no law. They therefore teach that we should preach “the Man” but not “the Plan,” else we become legalists.

However, a law is simply a “rule of action.” If there is no prescribed rule of action (i.e., no law), then it would be impossible to sin, since sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). The body of truth that guides us is elsewhere called the “law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2; 1 Corinthians 9:21), the “law of the Spirit of life” (Romans 8:1,2), and here it is called “the law of liberty” (Jas.. 1: 25; 2:12). It is true, however, that we are not under the law of Moses (Romans 6:14), but this does not mean that we are under no law at all. Continue reading » Voices from the Past: “The Perfect Law of Liberty” (Cecil Willis)

The Extension of God’s Grace

Redemption“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26).

The Origin of the Scheme of RedemptionNothing is haphazard with God. He is sovereign in the universe, and the only Being capable of “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure..'” (Isaiah 46:10). Scripture clearly reveals that God understood before the world ever began the consequence of creating man in His own image. Paul stated that man’s redemption was secured by the foreknowledge and power of God before he ever walked the face of this earth. He wrote in Ephesians 1:4-6, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”God knew before he created man that such a creature would disappoint Him by rebelling against His divine will. This is the nature of free moral agency, which is the greatest gift God gave us in His design of humanity. All God created He pronounced “very good”, and this included man (cf. Genesis 1:31). Some today want to blame God for the evil that is present in our world. Such is wrong, as James clearly explained, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James 1:12-14). Man himself is responsible for his sin, and for the resulting evil that is the consequence of such rebellion against the will of the Almighty. Continue reading » The Extension of God’s Grace

The Redemption of Man in Two Parts

RedemptionGod’s plan for redeeming man runs like a scarlet thread throughout scripture. Beginning with the promises God made to man in the Genesis account, and man’s subsequent fall from God’s favor, until the closing of the New Testament canon, where the Apostle John recorded the beautiful invitation, “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17), God’s scheme is the primary theme of scripture. It is both simple and sublime. God’s requirements for man, that he may be redeemed, can be understood even by children. At the same time, the enormity of His Son’s sacrifice and what it means for us dwarfs our comprehension. The following material in this month’s Watchman Magazine is intended to give an overview of that sublime plan. It is our intention to both document the great expression of God’s grace in sending His Son to die in our stead, and the divine requirements mandated by God that we might receive the benefits of such a gift. No study of Redemption is sufficient that does not explain both God’s part, and man’s part in securing that safety. Continue reading » The Redemption of Man in Two Parts

God’s Grace VS Man’s Grace

“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” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The denominational, religious world has long held a doctrinally false view of this most beautiful subject. Now, the same false view is being “peddled” by some who claim to be preachers of the Gospel. In a nutshell, the denominational concept of grace is that of a “blanket” covering of man’s sins, without obedience on his part, due to the perfect righteousness of Christ. A sort of strange “fog like” thing that prevents God from seeing our sins and imperfections. Because of the perfect righteousness of Christ, this “grace” serves as sort of an “umbrella” between God and man so that God only sees our good. This false doctrine has led some to totally reject any kind of works of obedience and a strong movement for “unity” with those who teach and practice false doctrine both in and out of the Lord’s church. One of the most popular writers today, and one who claims to be a Gospel preacher is Max Lucado. While most of those who hold the false position on grace that he holds have not gone as far away from Truth as he has, the seeds are being sown for the same kind of “harvest”. Continue reading » God’s Grace VS Man’s Grace

Voices from the Past: Salvation By Grace (James R. Cope)

[The Gospel Guardian, Vol. 26 No. 27, Nov. 1, 1974]

In Titus 2:11-13 we read, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” This passage affirms that the grace of God that brings salvation teaches us. The salvation here mentioned is obviously salvation from sin and its power. There is a grace of God, however, that does not bring salvation from sin, and from its operation we can gain a good idea of the meaning of grace in its spiritual implications.

The word grace simply means “favor.” Actually we live and move and have our physical being by the grace of God. By His grace we breathe air. By His grace we eat food to satisfy hunger. By His grace we drink water to quench thirst. Every physical blessing may be properly ascribed to the grace of God. Continue reading » Voices from the Past: Salvation By Grace (James R. Cope)

The Simple Gospel: Amazing Grace

We sing that beautiful song, Amazing Grace. (And the sentiment is a worthy one.)

 

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.
Thru many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come;
‘Twas grace that brought me safe thus far
and grace will lead me home.
I am afraid that many really do not understand what this song is saying or what the grace of God truly is. I would like to attempt to clear up these difficulties. Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: Amazing Grace

“Not Under the Law, But Under Grace” (Romans 6:14)

The Law of the Lord is Good!
“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14, KJV).

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14, ASV).

There are three clauses in our text: (1) “For sin shall not have dominion over you:” (2) “for you are not under law,” (3) “but under grace.” It is these three clauses which will form the divisions of our lesson. Continue reading » “Not Under the Law, But Under Grace” (Romans 6:14)