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
We affirm that the gospel is God’s power to salvation. That to be saved one must believe that gospel, repent of their sins and be willing to confess before men that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God.
When we affirm these things, almost everyone is pleased. Texts such as Romans 1:16, John 3:16, Luke 13:5 and Romans 10:8-10 clearly teach these truths.
We also affirm that baptism in water is necessary for salvation. And now we have a problem. Most people deny that one must be baptized to be saved. So why do we affirm it? Simple, just as belief, confession and repentance are clearly taught as necessary for salvation, so it is with baptism. Don’t believe me? Well, consider the following:
Continue reading » Video Script: Wash Away Your Sins (11)
It has been said that the theme of Redemption runs as a scarlet thread throughout the Bible. The red color of the thread is, of course, indicative of the consummation of that redemption for man, as Christ shed his crimson blood upon the cross for our sins.
The purpose of scripture is to reveal that redemptive scheme, that man may know what God has done, and what he must do to obtain salvation. Various theories have conspired to cloud the clear teaching of scripture. However, with care we can study the Bible, and as Paul wrote, “…by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.” (cf. Ephesians 3:4).
Continue reading » Redemption
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?
"I have surely seen the oppression of my people," said God to Moses while the bush burned. Thus begins the greatest rescue operation ever conducted on Earth as thousands upon thousands of slaves are removed from one nation to begin a journey to the land of promise.
The Bible contains a number of type and antitype situations. Isaac is a type of the antitype Jesus, as his father was willing to let his only son die. The salvation of Noah and his family through water is a type of the water baptism involved in the salvation of modern men (1 Peter 3:20-21).
In the exodus of fleshly Israel, the Lord provides us a type of the sinner’s departure from his own slavery to iniquity and the most wicked Pharaoh of all, Satan. God’s desire on either side of the Red Sea is answered in Exodus 6:6-7: "I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as my people, and I will be your God."
Continue reading » Solid Food: Let My People Go
"Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Without hearing the word of God, there can be no faith.
That is why communication is so important. God wants to communicate to us and does so through the Holy Scriptures. But if we don’t study, if we don’t read, God is not able to communicate. If God had chosen to do so, He could have written His will across the sky. But He didn’t. He could have spoken to us in some mysterious way that is "better felt than told." But He didn’t. He could have impressed His will into man as He has with animals (instinct). But He didn’t. He has expressed His will to us through the Holy Scriptures. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16). Are you aware that God is communicating with us through the Bible?
Continue reading » Associate Editorials: Communication and the Word of God
In the last issue, we showed that the gospel of Christ reveals a pattern for us to obediently follow if we are to fulfill our responsibility relating to salvation. We looked closely at Christ’s teaching about the subject. His instruction to us was left in terms of a will which He announced after His resurrection (see Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16 and Luke 24:46-47). Gathering all the facts to determine the whole pattern revealed, we see both the responsibilities enjoined upon us and the blessings received when we meet the conditions given. Jesus commanded that we must hear the gospel, believe it, repent of our sins, be baptized and continue to do all things commanded by Christ through His apostles. All who meet these conditions are disciples of Christ, saved and enjoy the remission of sins.
This pattern was consistently followed when the apostles went throughout the world preaching the gospel. The book of Acts is the historical record of that spread of the gospel. Let us look at the events recorded there and see the repeated adherence to the pattern by those who desired salvation.
Continue reading » In the Steps of the Savior: The Gospel, Salvation and the Sinner – 2
In a recent exchange between a Christian evangelist and a Baptist "pastor," the latter stated that anything one needs to do in order to be saved is a work, and thus nullifies grace.
His Calvinistic "faith only" doctrine is coming back to bite him. Surely, he will admit that one needs to believe in order to be saved. Is belief a work that nullifies grace? Some of Christ’s followers asked him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?". Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent’" (John 6:28-29).
But the Calvinist will also agree that a little confession is good for the soul. He submits to Paul’s teaching in Romans 10:9 which demands that oral confession precede salvation: "[I]f you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus … you will be saved." The minimal effort required to articulate such a confession as the Ethiopian eunuch made in Acts 8:37 is a facet of faith, the Calvinist argues and thus is not really a work. Oh?
Continue reading » Walking Worthy: The Bias Against Baptism
The Bible quotation that is the title of this article is language used in the King James Version of Acts 10:34. There, Luke records, “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” KJV). Modern translations would use the phrase that God “shows no partiality” (NKJV) or “is not one to show partiality” (NASB). Just for clarity’s sake, understand that the modern translations more accurately state the premise. Some have misunderstood the ancient language to mean that God has no respect for mankind indicating some disdain for man. Nothing could be further from the truth. God sent His only begotten Son to the earth in order to save man. God so loved the world, not disdained it.
That initial point dealt with, let us now look into what Peter said and why. The situation in Acts 10 is the record of the conversion of the first Gentile to the gospel of Christ in the person of Cornelius, a Caesarean army officer, a centurion. This was a man of a good reputation as well as powerful military rank. For verification of these details, please see and read Acts 10 and 11 in their entirety. The significance of the events recorded in these two chapters is seen in that up to this point in time the apostles and the initial converts maintained their Jewish bias against all Gentiles and considered them unworthy of a relationship with God, and certainly not with themselves, as the Jews were the chosen people of God. This bias was misapplied, but God had a plan to overcome their prejudice and show them a better way. Peter, a servant of God, an apostle of Jesus Christ as well as a devout Jew, was a tough nut to crack. This would not be the only time he had a problem with prejudice against Gentiles (See Galatians 2, beginning at verse 11). God had a way of dealing with tough nuts, too. Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: God is No Respecter of Persons
Do trips to the doctor exasperate you as much as they do me? It seems like there is something wrong when you pay a guy fifty dollars to tell you that you are too fat! Even though it is the truth, it seems to me that I should not have to pay fifty dollars to hear a doctor tell me what I could have told him by looking in the mirror.
During my last doctor visit, the nurse was somewhat more kind in breaking the news. Her way of expressing it made me consider the problem from another angle. She looked very surprised when she had to adjust the balance weights upward and then said, “You hide your weight well.” I had never heard that before, nor do I believe she looked very closely or she would have discovered where I was hiding it. But it did make me think about something. Let us suppose that one could “hide the weight” from others, would it change the weight total? Would it change the effects of the added weight? No, the effects remain the same whether hidden or obvious. There is no relief from the effects of the physical burden by hiding the problem. Whether the nurse, the doctor or the patient think the burden is hidden, it still exists and the effects remain. Continue reading » In the Steps of the Savior: Relief from the Burden of Sin
In the third chapter of the book of Genesis, there is recorded for us the account of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, and the serpent who tempted Eve to sin. God had commanded that Adam and his wife could eat of any tree in the garden, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 1:16,17). The serpent, through deceit and cunning, successfully tempted Eve to eat fruit from this tree, and she in turn gave some to Adam, who also ate (Genesis 3:1-6). Clearly, this was no ordinary serpent, since ordinary serpents can neither scheme nor speak. Moreover, God was so displeased with this serpent that He pronounced this curse upon it:
Because you have done this,
You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust
All the days of your life.
And I will put enmity between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.
The first part of this curse may seem obvious: snakes slither on their bellies. The second part, however, is somewhat enigmatic: What does it mean that the serpent and the woman will be enemies, and their respective descendants as well? And when will this conflict take place, wherein the woman’s descendant is wounded on the heel by the serpent, but wounds the serpent in the head? The book of Genesis closes without ever resolving this matter. In fact, the entire Old Testament holds no account of this promise being fulfilled. Surely, this serpent could not have survived for thousands of years, that this conflict should take place after the close of the Old Testament – or could he? Continue reading » Evidences of Faith: The Serpent’s Doom
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 Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, he admonished them for their toleration of error in the church. An ungodly man was in their fellowship, and they were, “…puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you” (1 Corinthians 5:2). He admonished them, saying, “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (vs. 6). As a result of his admonition, it seems that the church repented of their sin in this, and withdrew fellowship from this man. Regarding this repentance, Paul wrote in his second letter, “For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter” (2 Corinthians 7:8-11). Godly sorrow produces repentance, leading to salvation! Continue reading » Godly Sorrow Produces Repentance
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
In our previous article, The Extension of God’s Grace, we discussed the actions God took to secure man’s redemption. At the close of that article we noted that Redemption is not universal. There are some who will not gain an entrance into heaven. This is clearly revealed in many places in scripture. One example is Jesus’ statement to His disciples in Matthew 25. He said, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And he will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left…” (verses 31-33). The Lord stated in verse 46 that “…these (those on the left) will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
As already noted in our refutation of Calvinism, God is not capricious. He does not arbitrarily assign condemnation or reward at a whim. Concerning his eventual coming to earth, Peter said about the Lord, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). If God extended his Grace to all men, as indicated in this text as well as passages such as John 3:16, and not all men are going to taste heaven, it must be understood that salvation is conditional. Continue reading » The Power of the Gospel
“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
God’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
One of the most vexing questions religious people face today is sorting out the truth about what conditions must be met before one can be saved. Many do not think there are any conditions. Others think that there is only one — faith. But I have found an interesting way to study this question. It is simple and leaves one with a very high degree of certainty about the matter.
If anyone can settle the matter for us, it is Jesus Christ Himself. When Jesus was preparing to leave the earth, He gave last instructions to His apostles. In three of the gospel accounts these last instructions are found, and they are generally called the Great Commission. Let’s look at these three accounts and merely ask: What did Jesus say?
The three accounts are Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; and Luke 24:47. If I were studying with you at the kitchen table, I would just have you get a sheet of paper and write these notes down as we go. As nearly as possible, we will conduct this study the same way. Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: The Conditions of Salvation
Addicts are sometimes put on programs of rehabilitation involving “steps” to recovery. You may have seen advertised recently a three step program to cure tobacco addiction. There are also nine and twelve step plans for alcohol, drug and gambling addictions. In these programs, each step involves a specific action or behavior which typically is to be done before one advances to the next step. Step plans serve not only to help a person reach a desired goal, they are also an effective means of measuring progress towards that goal. Modern counselors and self-help specialists have discovered that step plans are very effective tools because they clarify for us what must be done to reach a goal and they help keep us focused on achieving it.
It has been said that pioneer preachers, in an effort to simplify the plan of salvation, condensed it down to a five step plan. Common people, addicted to sin, who heard restoration preaching could remember the five step plan simply by associating each step with a digit on one of their hands. They were told that they needed to Hear-Believe-Repent-Confess-and be Baptized (H-B-R-C-B) in order to be saved.
Some have suggested that the Bible does not actually contain these steps, and that insistence on following five steps amounts to binding where God has not bound and/or an oversimplification which leaves off other truths of equal or greater importance. Others think that if these are truly the steps one must take to be saved, surely God would have specifically stated this in a single passage of scripture; since no single Bible passage appears to contain all five steps, they conclude that God has no five step plan. Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: Does God Really Have a Five Step Plan?