Ex-Church of Christ (7)

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Continuing my evaluation of the following website (http://ex-churchofchrist.com/unbiblicalCoC.htm), it is clear the trend in being against has more to do with “I want to believe….” than it does any biblical exegesis. Below is another illustration of this. 

An unbiblical doctrine, we are told, would be the following point:  

Uzzah (II Samuel 6) is an example of how we will be punished for wrong worship.

See here for an example of this teaching.

The priests were instructed never to approach the ark of the covenant (the Presence of God) without blood and incense (forgiveness and prayer). They were never to touch the ark, but were to carry it on their shoulders. Uzzah, a priest, steadied the ark when the oxen stumbled, and was struck dead.

King David parked the ark in the nearest house, then later moved it the proper way, with the priests carrying it on their shoulders. Sacrifices were made. David leaped and danced with all his might before the ark. (II Samuel 6). There is no record of God asking David to leap and dance. Yet God accepted David’s worship and no-one was struck dead.

RT – This is another account of a desired outcome to reading the Scripture rather than a desire to understand contextual matters. To begin, note how there is no scriptural reference to the points made (or more properly stated, asserted). Is it actually a matter of truth that the priests were NEVER to approach the Ark of the Covenant? No, this is not the case. The priests (certain ones of them) were to approach the Ark of the Covenant at particular times (Numbers 4:5), such as when there was a transport pending (Numbers 4:15), or on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). In both these cases, the “never” is mitigated. Second, within the remarks made, the “never” is contradicted when the remark is made that they were to “carry” the ark on their shoulders (actually, the Ark of the Covenant was transported by a certain Levitical family as they carried the Ark of the Covenant via handling poles).

Uzzah is not identified as a Levite or a priest. One might presume he was (because David would not have been so foolish as to not have at least a Levite to move the Ark of the Covenant), but the Record does not state that he was either. Couple this with David’s words in 1 Chronicles 15:12-15, one might more easily think that David himself was presumptuous in allowing one not of the Levites to transport. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (revised edition, 4:960) identifies Uzzah as a “non-Levite.”

To the larger point, however. If the author of the critical remarks directed at the churches of Christ would have done a little more study, he would have learned exactly why Uzzah died and, furthermore, would have told his audience who read his words. Take note that he did not; all that he said was that David later moved the Ark of the Covenant in the “proper way.” In 1 Chronicles 15:12-15, one reads:

He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. “For because you did not do it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.” So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel. And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD. (NKJV)

In the case of Nadab / Abihu, in the case of Uzzah the failings of these men were directly associated with a failing of obeying the express will of God.

We are given to understand that since God accepted David’s leaping and dancing as worship, and that he was not “struck dead,” then it must be the case that there is no requirement of man (from God) to inquire concerning the manner of one’s worship. I guess it must be the case that if one is not “struck dead,” then what is done / offered is acceptable to the Lord? Though the author of the web-piece does not explicitly say this, evidently he wants us to understand him this way. It is true that David exhibited a great deal of exuberance and excitement, though 2 Samuel 6:14-15 does not call it worship; whether or not one thinks it is, is simply a matter of judgment. I will not call it that; all that I can say is that he was exuberant and excited because he was bringing the Ark of the Covenant to its desired “resting” place. Additionally, the sacrifices offered in transport and in the end, that can easily be called / identified as worship (Leviticus 1-3).

 

YOU KNOW MORE!

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Exactly how fortunate you are may be unknown to you. I am sure you are very much aware of the fact that you are fortunate in that Jesus died for you (and me), and in obedience to His will, our sins are forgiven. This is tremendously important to the spiritually thoughtful person. As each day comes, as each year passes, this becomes all the more important to each of God’s children. The psalmist said, “There is no soundness in my flesh Because of Your anger, Nor any health in my bones Because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me” (Psalm 38:3-4, NKJV).

Can you relate with these words, this sentiment? Surely you can. Moreover, you have come to appreciate all the more the importance of Jesus’ death on the cross in order for you (and me) to have our sins forgiven. We are very fortunate!

We are very fortunate in another way also. Consider what Peter wrote to those Christians scattered about in the area that we know today as Turkey (Asia Minor then). “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven–things which angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:10-12).

There are two points that I want to bring to your attention. First, the prophets of God in the past were very fortunate in receiving from the Almighty the privilege of knowing what God had planned for those who love Him. With this privilege came a great responsibility. To Jeremiah the Lord made this abundantly clear. “Therefore prepare yourself and arise, And speak to them all that I command you. Do not be dismayed before their faces, Lest I dismay you before them” (Jeremiah 1:17). Just as one becomes all the more aware, and all the greater appreciative, the responsibility becomes all the more serious. Sometimes the weight of this responsibility becomes too heavy. When it does, and even before it does, to the Lord one must depend and on Him one gains relief.

Second, another area in which we (today) are fortunate is that we know more now than what they did then. I understand the trepidation some might have in saying, “I know more about God’s will than Isaiah did!” The humility associated with this trepidation is commendable, but it is true! Isaiah was extremely fortunate, as was Jeremiah and Daniel. Yet, what Daniel knew from God he wrote down; Jeremiah did the same. As far as the Scripture is concerned is it somewhere recorded that Jeremiah knew more than he spoke and wrote? “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29, NKJV)

The Lord has revealed to His people what He wants them to know. What we know today is more than what Isaiah, Jeremiah, Samuel, Moses, etc., knew. If that is not the case, then what do you think Peter meant when he said what he did?

“…if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me [Apostle Paul] for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 3:2-5, NKJV).

YOU are very fortunate, and you can show your gratitude to the Lord by your love and obedience to His holy will.

 

Ex-Church of Christ (6)

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Continuing my evaluation of the following website (http://ex-churchofchrist.com/unbiblicalCoC.htm), it is clear the trend in being against has more to do with “I want to believe….” than it does any biblical exegesis. Below is another illustration of this. 

An unbiblical doctrine, we are told, would be the following point:  

Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10) are an example of how we will be punished for wrong worship.

See here  and here for examples of this teaching.

Nadab and Abihu were instructed to take coals of fire from the altar to burn incense before God. They took coals from a different fire. The symbolism is clear: The altar represents Jesus’ sacrifice (Hebrews 13:10-12) and incense represents prayer (Rev. 5:8). The symbolism of this passage only teaches that our prayers are unacceptable to God unless we go through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is a teaching in humility. It is not our own obedience that is acceptable to God, but Christ’s sacrifice and Christ’s obedience through which we find access to God. This passage is actually comforting when we realize that our own efforts are not what put us in a right relationship with God, but it is what God has done for us, and our simple acceptance of that fact, that brings us to God.

RT – This is poor exegesis; in fact, it is eisegesis! This man does not allow the text to teach us anything except for what he calls its symbolic intention (in a New Testament context). Instead, he inserts what he wants us to understand and then passes it off as authoritative. The “symbolism is clear”? Is there something in the text to teach this is only a figurative matter? Is there something in the New Testament that teaches us this is only to be understood as a figurative matter? One might reply, “He did not say it was only symbolic!” Really? Perhaps, I misunderstood his words then. “The symbolism of this passage only teaches…” If the New Testament did not assign any symbolism to it, then only the presumptive ones do so. Nadab and Abihu did not understand it any exclusive symbolic way; they felt the literal force of the Lord’s wrath. From this, if one is smart (cf. Romans 15:4), we can learn much.

First, when the Lord prescribes something to be done in worship (or in any other context), then that which was prescribed is to be done. Second, for those who do not obey in His prescribed way, we understand how the Lord will respond (or potentially so). Commenting on 1 Peter 1:17, Peter Davids said, “It reminds his readers that it is not their persecutors who need to be feared, but God, who is not to be trifled with nor presumed upon, for his judgment is ultimate” (Peter Davids, New International Commentary New Testament on 1 Peter, p. 71, underscoring added by RT). Third, coupling this with Romans 15:4, those in a New Testament context are to apply the principle.

Moreover, what does he mean by his symbolism when he says we must “goes through the sacrifice of Jesus”? Does he mean we must offer our prayers to the Father “by the authority” of Jesus? I am unable to tell if that is what he means. If he does mean that, then why not understand this idea of going by the authority of Jesus as just a matter of symbolism, and not anything more? Again, he made a plainly false statement when he said “it is not our obedience that is acceptable to God, but Christ’s sacrifice…” Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, never thought of obedience as unimportant. This opinion of our web-article is not a New Testament teaching, but a personal theology of man. Paul wrote, “…and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, (Romans 1:4-6, ESV). Note the following things from this passage one learns. 1) the preaching of Jesus and His resurrection was according to the Holy Spirit, 2) this preaching was to bring about obedience from a person who, 3) called upon the Lord. Vincent Taylor wrote years ago, Unto marks the object of the grace and apostleship: in order to bring about. Obedience of faith is the obedience which characterizes and proceeds from faith” (VWS, on Romans 1:5, E-sword). Peter wrote, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:22-23, ESV). Thus, to say that it is not our obedience that is acceptable to God is false at worse and misleading at best.

Finally, with regard to Leviticus 10, one learns the Lord (through Moses) instructed the High Priest and his associates the importance of hearing and obeying the His express will (10:10-11). The two associate priests offered “strange fire” (Exodus 30:9; unauthorized fire – ESV; from where they retrieved that “fire” is unstated). The point is, they were to offer only that which the Lord authorized; to offer what they did was presumptuous. There is nothing exclusively symbolic about it associated with prayer through Jesus; in fact, there is nothing at all associated with prayer and Jesus.

Is there an application of the principle in the New Testament? Not according to our author (except in a symbolic way). There is, however, from the vantage point of Paul, not only as he stated it in Romans 15:4, but also as he stated it in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13.

 

An Indelible Mark

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Do you remember what you were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001? I do. Some points of history leave an indelible mark. This was one of them for me. I remember that I was in my office (Sullivan, IL) working when a chat request came to me as I was on-line. The chat request was from a preacher in Canada (Sarnia, Canada). “Have you seen the news?” I was asked. Of course, while in the office, I had not. Then checking the news I saw what happened. I turned on Fox News and was entrenched from that hour on.

I am a conservative man, a strong hardline patriot. I was ready to reenlist in the USAF all over again (I was in the USAF from 1982-1992) because I suspected, then finally learned this was sabotage or an attack. It reminds me of those things I read relative to WW2, how a great many young men gave up the routine and pleasures of life to serve their country when Japan attacked in 1941. Because of the determination those men had, because of the capacity of production our country could generate and because I believe the Lord was against the tyranny of evil propagating at the time, the Allied Forces crushed two military empires (Japan and Germany). In human history, this was no small feat!

There is another point of history that left an imprint on me, and that was November 1, 1983. With the Bible (the Good News Bible) in hand, I obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was a young man living in Alamogordo, New Mexico (USAF) when the events of life turned my attention from the things I was currently involved with toward things of greater value. I thought I had some religious inclination, and was even a little bit informed. I soon learned that I was not. My roommate, Dave Hunt, was a Christian who was not faithful, and in his lack of faithfulness, he was still better informed than me. Being humbled is a good thing to experience, though at the time I did not think so much along that line!

In my lack of knowledge, I decided that I wanted to be better informed. I went to Bible studies on the Air Force Base (Holloman AFB), and engaged where I could in conversations. My apostate roommate invited me to church services one day (might have been on Easter Sunday), and while interested, I was not intrigued all that much (yet). Weeks came and went. On the AFB I hosted a Bible study in my dorm room (otherwise known as barracks). From that study, I learned enough about the Gospel of Christ that I knew I wanted to become a Christian. On November 1, 1983, I was baptized into the Lord Jesus for the remission (forgiveness) of my sins. I was happy, but I then became a bull in a china shop. I was clumsy and enthusiastic in my new-found commitment to the Lord. As the years unfolded, I moderated and learned more humility by being humbled. Tough growing pains.

Here it is, 33 years later and I am writing a bulletin article about an indelible mark left on the brain of Ron Thomas. In those three decades, not all of my experiences have been positive; some, in fact, have been rather painful. Still, the decision I made a long-time ago has brought no regrets to me. Instead, I have a living hope before me.

What kind of imprint did your decision for Christ leave on you? Was it a greater impact than that which occurred on September 11, 2001? It is very likely you remember what you were doing on September 11, 2001. Whether you do or not, does the Lord remember you because you have chosen to take up His banner and carry His name with you? On this date, let us be reminded of what is really important. RT

 Worthy of Praise

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As Christians we understand that God is worthy of praise. We understand it, but is it something we express often in the Lord’s direction? Perhaps in your life you don’t do this as often as you should. I am speaking more than just a Sunday or Wednesday occasion.

In Peter’s first letter to those saints who were scattered abroad (in what we know as Turkey today, Asia Minor then), he mentions a number of things at the outset of his letter than should prompt us to reflect on just how great our God is (1 Peter 1:1-4).

God’s foreknowledge. The word “foreknowledge” is a Bible word that some people actually struggle with understanding. The struggle is not in knowing the meaning of the word, but only how God can have foreknowledge and not at the same time save that one He knows beforehand what he (she) is going to do. “If God knows beforehand, did not His knowledge of this mean one had to do that which the Lord knew early on?” Do you struggle with this? The word “foreknow” comes from a Greek word that means “know beforehand” (prognōsis). This particular word is only used twice in Scripture (Acts 2:23), though a related word is used often. If God knows beforehand what you and I are going to do, can we actually not do it?

There is a necessary distinction to be made between knowing beforehand and what some people understand as predestination. Knowing beforehand what a person will do (or does) in no way precludes his willingness (free will) to do it. The common understanding of predestination does not allow for this. Foreknowledge means only that the quality of God’s character knows before (or sees ahead) what will be done. For instance, if you will allow this illustration, we can get a better sense of what is meant when we think of the word prognosis. You teach a young person that if a certain thing is done, then a following consequence will result. You know this by experience, learning, and by seeing the path laid out before that young person. In your teaching of the youth, you laid out the options and potential consequences, but it was the youth who chose and with that choice, you “saw” what would happen (and it did). This limited illustration makes the point, I think.

God’s sanctification. In God’s foreknowledge, He saw what we would do in the way of choices made. He saw that we would choose to live the life of the Savior and with that choice made, He sanctified us in His Son. How did He do this? Peter said it was “by” (NASV) or “in” the Spirit (Holy Spirit).  This idea of “sanctification” is not a mysterious concept that we can hardly understand. You will remember that Paul said that what was once a mystery is now made known (Eph. 3:1-6). With this in mind, how does God’s sanctification work (or operate)? To begin, it is not some mysterious way not revealed in Scripture! As God’s word is preached, the power of God operates through that word (Acts 16:14, Romans 1:16), Peter even speaks of this later in the first chapter (1:21-25). When one hears and believes that which is taught, then God’s power begins to work on that heart, setting him (or her) apart for salvation. The completion of this sanctification is fulfilled in obedience to that which the Lord said (1 Peter 1:2).

God’s blood. God the Father did not actually shed His blood, for He is not a material creation whereby He could “spill” blood. God the Son, however, became flesh (incarnate), took on the form of man and willingly gave His life for you and me (it was not taken from Him against His will). The initial level of this sanctifying process is in teaching and inclining the heart through God’s power for us to move in His direction. This movement then turns into a penitent attitude with the culmination being the taught person obeys His holy will, thereby becoming a “blood-bought” person, identified as a God’s saint.

There is much for us to praise the worthy name of the Lord.

Ex-Church of Christ (5)

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  1. Worship is following the blueprint in the book of Acts.

The practice of establishing authority by command, apostolic example and necessary inference, is a doctrine that descends from the Scottish Enlightenment, the reformed Presbyterians, the Puritans and Ulrich Zwingli.

See here for an example of this teaching in the Churches of Christ.

Worship is telling God how much you appreciate what he has done for you. Worship is every positive thing that goes on in your head and in your heart.

RT – What an interesting comment! He says nothing concerning whether it is wrong or not, he only speaks of its origin (or so he thinks). Does he really want to dismiss the idea of “establishing authority” in some way other than God’s commands? Does he want to “establish authority” in some way other than the apostolic examples recorded in the New Testament? Evidently he does. He described (or defined) worship as “Worship is every positive thing that goes on in your head and in your heart.” By whose authority did he establish this decree (for that is what it is)? Was it by God’s command? If so, one would think the Scripture would so declare. Was it by apostolic teaching or example? If so, then surely the author of this authoritative declaration would have set forth a word from any one of them so declaring. Yet, in both cases, there is not a word from God on this. In fact, the only authoritative word are the presumptuous words of our author. Not much authority, it seems to me.

The word “worship” (proskuneō) means to make obeisance, do reverence to (Vines 1258); to fall down and/or worship someone (Mounce 810). Note how this does not conform to the assertion of our web-article. Moreover, note how this does not conform to the Scripture in John 4:24, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (ESV). One translation reads this way, “God is Spirit, and those who worship God must be led by the Spirit to worship him according to the truth” (Contemporary English Version). Some translations read “reality,” “genuine,” as if to convey in accordance with the nature of God (“in harmony with the Nature and Will of God,” Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary). An important question in relation to this. If “truth” is in accordance with one’s own way of thinking, then how can one know whether or not he is right? He can’t; he can think he is right, but he can’t know it. Jeremiah 10:23 makes this abundantly clear (cf. 17:9; Proverbs 14:12). Since man can’t know, then is it not better to follow the pattern as set forth by the apostles? If it is, then why the resistance? For one reason only: “Because I want to!”

Here is a reminder from Scripture about what Paul thought his approach should be (all from the ESV): 1 Corinthians 14:37 – “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 4:17 – “That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. Romans 15:18 – “For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience–by word and deed…”

  1. God is reluctant to forgive.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” –Luke 15:20

RT – This is utter and complete nonsense! He offered no evidence of this, not even his own so-called experience.

Ex-Church of Christ (4)

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  1. Obedience is following the blueprint in the book of Acts.

See here for an example of this teaching.

16“This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.” 17Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.” 18And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.’ –Hebrews 10

There is no new law in the New Testament. There is only new forgiveness and the fulfillment of the shadows of this forgiveness found in the Old Testament. (See sidebar for more.)

RT – It is clear the author of the web-article does not know the New Testament well at all to make a remark like this. In a previous post I cited a number of passage where there IS law. I will do so again (all from the ESV).

“But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:25)

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2)

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12)

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1-2)

With his clearly mistaken notion, compare what he said with what you read above. Nothing more really needs to be said.

Ex-Church of Christ (3)

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  1. Every time you sin you are lost until you ask forgiveness.

See here and here for examples of this teaching.

“For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”  –Romans 6:14. Paul teaches that we live under forgiveness.

12But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. 13Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14because by one sacrifice he hasmade perfect forever those who are being made holy.” –Hebrews 10

23The words “it was credited to him [Abraham]” were written not for him alone, 24but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness–for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”  –Romans 4

For more on this click here.

Having looked at the links (to Gospel Advocate and Truth Magazine), I noticed the links did not open to the desired location. Perhaps this is why there was some additional words within the thematic website (http://ex-churchofchrist.com/PhariseesCoc.htm) that addressed it. I find, however, since I have come to see how they handle the Bible to mistrust what they say in citing the writings of another. Be that as it may, let me address what was said and the reply to follow.

In an article in the Fulton County Gospel NewsMammoth Springs, AR (Nov. 2004) a writer states,

“If a person is to receive the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and if that person is to remain in a saved condition, he must ‘sin not.’ ‘But,’ many might interject, ‘don’t we all sin from time to time?’ To be sure…The remedy for individual, momentary acts of sin, of which every Christian who is blessed with life is guilty from time to time, is found in I John 1:9–penitent confession to God.”

Note the minimizing: “individual, momentary acts of sin”. The apostle Paul stated that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). I don’t know about you, but I believe I fall short of the glory of God, and the example of Jesus’ life on earth, 100% of the time. I am convinced that sin is a much more pervasive and insidious issue in our lives than the Fulton County Gospel writer believes.

RT – The only critical remark made is that the critic believes sin is more pervasive than the lifted words of the Fulton County Gospel News. The critic did not say the writer was biblically wrong, only that sin is more insidious that the original post. The author of the original post did not deny Romans 3:23 (at least as far as the lifted-from-the-context remarks are concerned).

How did Paul use his remarks in Romans 3:23? In the larger context of his address to the church in Rome, Paul addressed his words to both Jews and Gentiles, declaring that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. The point of those words was (and is) in relation to the need for salvation, that is, the need for Jesus. It is later (in the same chapter) that Paul speaks to this precisely in relationship of faith contrasted by the purpose of the Law of Moses (3:20).

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one–who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. (Romans 3:21-30, ESV)

Sin is pervasive and it is insidious, but Jesus is the remedy for sin. If one is to apply the teachings of the Lord to the behaviors of one’s personal life, is it not the case that the insidious nature of sin can be (and is) overcome? Certainly it is, otherwise, there is no power in the word (Romans 1:16-17).

I find it interesting that the web-article author cites Romans 6, Hebrews 10 and Romans 4 to make his case. Romans 6 speaks directly to the need of baptism, something the author makes no mention of; Hebrews 10 speaks to the Law of Moses and the role of the priest, not the obedience of one who fears and loves the Lord under the authority of the New Covenant; and Romans 4 makes the greater point that Abraham was saved by the Lord without obeying the Law of Moses because it had yet been brought to the people of Israel.

See what you can do when there is no regard to the context!

Ex-Church of Christ (2)

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  1. Only people baptized in the Churches of Christ will be saved.

See here (https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1176-the-truth-on-baptism-should-not-be-watered-down) and here for examples of this teaching.

If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.28A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.” –Romans 2

RT – Pay particular attention to the assertion/accusation. Now go to the web link and see if the author of the article anywhere says what is asserted. In fact, the author of the article simply lays out a case for biblical baptism. There was nothing pejorative in what was written. Moreover, the passage referenced in Romans 2 by the author of this web-article lifted the passage out of the context in which Paul was addressing his words. Paul was talking about the Jew who was a hypocrite; that is, he insisted on obedience to the Law of Moses, but refused to adhere to it himself (note this especially in 2:17-29). Baptism and circumcision are not the same. Baptism applies to both the male and female; circumcision applied only to the male. Baptism applies to the males and females of all nations; circumcision applied only to the Hebrew (a descendant of Abraham). Baptism applies to people who have come to hear and understand the message of God with a penitent heart; circumcision applied only to the male who understood nothing, but experienced pain.

Ex-Church of Christ

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Disgruntled employees always have bad things to say about an employer; the same goes for those who are not biblically informed. The following is a website that speaks as disgruntled members of the Lord’s church. It is my intention to incorporate the remarks (in full) and reply to them. Let me encourage you to do your own study on these matters.

http://ex-churchofchrist.com/unbiblicalCoC.htm

It is asserted that about 20% of the churches (church of Christ) teaching the following.

  1. You cannever be sureyou are saved.

This is never stated out loud from the pulpit. However Bible stories of people being struck dead are told so many times from the pulpit that the message comes across loud and clear. Every time a passage about the security of salvation is read in a Bible class, the teacher is quick to counter it with verses like: “Make every effort to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” The statement is made repeatedly that Baptists are so sure they are saved that they use grace as a license to sin.

Consider also the frequent words of warning that Paul gives regarding over confidence toward salvation. 1 Corinthians 10:12 states “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” 2 Corinthians 13:5 says “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” Kevin Cauley, Berryville church of Christ, Arkansas

One of us taught at a rural Church of Christ for 18 months. Each sermon Sunday morning and Sunday evening was on the security of our salvation. After 18 months a 70 year old woman was asked, “Do you believe you’re definitely going to heaven?” “No,” she replied, “but I feel a lot more secure than when you first arrived.” A few months later her husband died of cancer. She was worried that he wouldn’t go to heaven because he died smoking cigarettes. He had tried many times to quit, but never did. *

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” –I John 5:13

19We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain” –Hebrews 6

One preacher explained “Not Under Law, But Under Grace” (Romans 6:14) in this way:

“‘`For you are not under law” is an ellipsis (“Gram. Omission of one or more words, obviously understood, but necessary to make the expression grammatically complete,” Webster. …”For you are not under law only, but also under grace”).

This preacher cannot imagine a forgiveness from God that puts us under grace and not under law.

Another example comes from a preacher who wrote an article entitled: Will Those Under Grace Have To Give an Account? His answer is “yes.”

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RT – Can you know you are saved? It seems like a silly question when the Scripture actually speaks to the issue. In 1 John 5:13, the answer is clear. “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” (ESV). The above remarks are NOT my experience with any congregation my family regularly attended. That is not to say some within the church did not feel secure, but I have NEVER heard a preacher or elder say anything to the contrary of 1 John 5:13. Why would they? If one has doubt, the problem is not Scripture or the Lord, but only the person who identifies himself as a saint working through his (her) personal struggles. To somehow suggest that incorporating 1 Corinthians 10:12 or 2 Corinthians 13:5 into a conversation or sermon whereby one is encouraged to think about the insecurity of their personal salvation is to miss the point of the Scripture, context and personal application. 

What was Paul’s point in the two passages referenced by the web article?

In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul’s point was to warn the saints that if they were not mindful of the experience the Israelites had in their wilderness wanderings, then they would fail to hear and heed the Lord’s warnings. This is made abundantly clear via the context of the first 11 verses. Thus, no matter the struggle one has in life, when one trust in the Lord, then the Lord will bring that person through the trials because He has made a way for them. Does this sound like “doubting one’s salvation”? No. It only sounds like an exhortation to saints to trust in the Lord, not in self.

In 2 Corinthians 13, Paul’s larger point (chapters 10 through 13) was in relation to their being false teachers and the all-too-willingness of the Corinthians saints receiving them. Some were questioning Paul’s authority and credentials; so, when Paul comes again, he was going to present himself with that which some desired. In the course of these remarks, he called upon them to take spiritual inventory of their walk with Christ. Does this sound like Paul is calling into doubt one’s salvation? Only if the one who was given a warning fail to heed that warning, a warning that comes from God.

On the other hand, if one trusts in the Lord, then the inventory taken will make clear where he (or she) stands (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:13).

Are the saints under “law” or under “grace”? Let the New Testament speak for itself.

“But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:25)

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2)

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Back to the question, are the saints under “law” or under “grace”? Only allowing the Scripture to speaks for itself, what would you say? (Be sure to read the context wherein those passages are located.)

Will those under “grace” have to give an account? Again, let the New Testament speak for itself.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

It is clear that while some may teach that one can’t be sure of their salvation, those who teach it or believe it are biblically mistaken. Similar to those who post this without contextual evidence of the assertions and accusations.