The Fork in the Road: On Imperfect Baptisms, Part 7

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The kingdom of heaven is like a man, who trained for years to run the Olympic 400-meter race, and whose hamstring failed, making it impossible not only to win the race, but even to finish. For I tell you that when a runner is broken and fallen, the runner’s father will rescue him and carry him over the finish line — and the crowds will stand and cheer the heroism and devotion and love of both father and son.

And I tell you that there will be men who know the rules and who know that it’s against the rules for a father to carry his son over the finish line and who would keep the father from carrying his son — because it breaks the rules.

But it is far better to be broken, fallen, and lifted up than to be perfectly healthy and standing in the father’s way.

In the Olympics the rules matter. They aren’t the only things that matter. Sometimes those disqualified from the race receive even more cheers than those who can finish on their own.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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35 Responses to The Fork in the Road: On Imperfect Baptisms, Part 7

  1. Mike Ward says:

    Would he have been disqualified if his father and not come out on the track? He was going to make it on his own eventually. A loss sure, but a victory none-the-less. I feel the father took something from him. Sure his father gets the be on TV and have people all over the internet say what a great dad he is, but what did the son get out of this. A father who loves him? Surely he had that already? I father to wraps his arms around him? Well sure, but couldn't he have had that after the race?

  2. Aaron says:

    Jay,

    Great story…reminds me of a story Jesus told about a father who saw his broken, failed son stumbling over the horizon and RAN to meet him. It's a shame there are so many "elder brothers" out there who would rather criticize the father than join in the celebration. God, give us ears to hear.

  3. Tom Forrester says:

    I believe the video makes Jay’s point that the rules “aren’t the only things that matter.” Are not rules mainly for our growth and protection? I know from personal experience that I would rather follow the rules and spend more time walking in God’s favor than in his discipline. But lets suppose for a minute that we are “strong” Christians and able to know and obey the rules and have already checked off the five steps to salvation. Would we still not have the same response as Isaiah in the presence of a holy God – Isaiah 6:5? In the presence of God, who would think our rule keeping ability would justify us?

    If rule keeping is what it’s all about and it becomes my motivation, I’ve surely missed what God wants from me. Is life about me being saved from hell and going to heaven someday? Some would quickly answer yes, but I believe the word teaches differently. Are we not to lose our life to gain it? Should I not put self on the back burner? Would not Paul have gone to hell in place of his brethren? Jesus did.

    Jay, as you’ve so well pointed out, God wants our heart. He wants us to be faithful so we can be used by him, worship and give him glory. Our job is to bring the love of Christ to a fallen world. That’s why the fruit of the Spirit is relational. It’s all about walking with God and serving mankind. Only the love of God can properly form our hearts and produce a living faith in us. And by the grace of God we are translated into the kingdom.

  4. Jay Guin says:

    Aaron,

    Thanks for the reminder. You see, in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, when the father ran to the son, he broke the rules. In the culture of that part of the world, the father sits and the son approaches him. To run toward the son would be a severe, humiliating dishonor. It's just not done.

  5. K. Rex Butts says:

    Very well said Jay. Thanks!

  6. Royce Ogle says:

    At the end, if we are truthful, everyone of of us who are finally across the finish line will only be there because of God's initiative and not our own. It is the Father who "so loved", it is the Son who died for sinners, it is the Spirit who convicts and draws men to Christ.

    Nothing in my hand I bring, only to the cross I cling will be the anthem of every saints heart.

    Those who try to climb up some other way will be rejected. By the obedience of the one man, Jesus, many will be made righteous. The poor in spirit are glad to admit they can't do anything to save themselves while the proud and religious claim their own goodness and wind up perishing.

  7. Adam says:

    When will we, as a church, truly accept that the power of our God is manifest in weakness? Not sometimes, not just because the world is fallen, but because that is who God is.

  8. Todd Collier says:

    Grace, grace, grace.

  9. Mike,
    What a sour-puss you are! Why try to ruin a beautiful story of love by talking about the rules and how this father “took something from” his son by going to his side to help!

    Yes, the runner might have crossed the line eventually – but in Jay’s parable, we would never cross the finish line without the Father’s love, the Son’s gift, and the Spirit’s aid!

    Shame on all of us who think otherwise!

    Jerry

  10. Bruce Morton says:

    Jay:
    We do need to cast ourselves on the Father's love and grace — including the grace that He gives by allowing us to participate in His Son's death and resurrection! Beautiful. Not only symbol; much more than that!

    I also pray that you see the Father's love in His Word and get beyond talking about grace in baptism in Titus 3:4-7 as "boring, orthodox Church of Christ" teaching. Seems to me our Father's love and wisdom expressed in His Word at every point is deserving of the same honor and passion that I see fueling your parable.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  11. abasnar says:

    Grace, grace, grace.

    It is really interesting if you imagine the ways you can modulate your voice when saying these three words.

    It can sound as exciting as the voice in a merchandising: "Grace, grace, grace! Come and see! Absolutely free!"

    Or can be as boring as endless repetitions: "Grace, grace, grace … I can't hear this anymore!"

    Or you could read it in a meditating way: "Grace, grace … grace … hmmm. Who can grasp its depth?"

    And it can be read as if we were reading a list: "Grace. Grace. Another Grace. Sum total: Grace."

    Or you could sing it like one of these modern CCM-worship-chorusses: "Grace, grace, grace – to the music of the Beatles hymn: love, love. love … is all you need."

    Guess, how I read it the first time ;-)

    But if we want to describe the Gospel then grace is probably not the best word to start with, since even our Lord Jesus did not use it. There is so much more to the story than a one-word-message could convey … and baptism has its valid and important place in it, because in baptism we obtain: "Grace, grace, grace"

    The grace of forgivness of Sin
    The grace of a new birth and the Spirit
    The grace of becoming part of His body

    We can't receive this manyfold grace without faith, to be sure, but tell me how we can get all of this without baptism. My impression from this discussion was like Bruce's – I'm a bit disappointed, too.

    Alexander

  12. Anne says:

    Alexander, you missed one–it can be read as whew! I've received "grace, grace, grace"!

    Your summary after the smiley face so succinctly sums up what I've had rattling around in my head, but couldn't quite put into words, Thanks!

    And isn't it funny how some seem to extend more "grace" to everyone but those "old, stodgy orthodox" Christians.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Baptism represents that we've already been forgiven of sin.
    Baptism represents that we've already begun a new birth in the Spirit.
    Baptism represents that we already are apart of His body.

    We are saved by the God's grace through Jesus' sacrificial blood, He paid the debt no man could ever pay, Jesus' sinless sacrifice is the only sacrifice sufficient to a Holy God. We are saved by grace through faith, not of works lest anyone should boast.

  14. K. Rex Butts says:

    Anonymous,

    Where did you ever get the idea that baptism is a work of man…certainly not from scripture. Reread Romans 6 and ask why it speaks of the person being baptized in the passive-tense voice such as I just used? Could it be perhaps that baptism is a work…the work of God being done to the person being baptized (passive tense) through the death and resurrection of Jesus?

    It sounds like you were raised in a church that taught you how baptism was a work of man and therefore it couldn't possibly have anything to do with the reception of God's grace. I too was raised in a church that taught me unintentionally how baptism was a work of man unto salvation by the way they preached about baptism. Unfortunately, both of the churches we grew up in misunderstood baptism and its relationship to salvation.

    Today, I am still learning about baptism even though I was baptized into Jesus Christ years ago. What I have learned is that salvation is indeed by grace through faith. But also that baptism is a part of that salvation process that transforms me from a rebellious sinner into a holy saint who wears the name of Jesus. Baptism is not our work but God work in us through the blood of Jesus. I know some would say that that places a limitation on just who God can and has saved but since the whole concept of grace is that God is saving those who neither deserve salvation or were able to live within the parameters of his written will (the law) to begin with, I will trust God judge in love, mercy, and righteousness (attributes which have defined God from the very dawn of creation) those people like you, myself, and many other Christians who do not understand doctrines like grace and baptism perfectly (even though some think they do understand perfectly).

    In the meantime, I will continue trying to live out my committment to that same confession of Jesus that I presume you and most of the others commenting on this blog have made. And I will do that by the power of the Holy Spirit because I know – and God surely knows – that I cannot do it on my own strength.

    Your brother in Christ,

    K. Rex Butts

  15. Anonymous says:

    Do you have to fill up the baptismal tank or get in a car and drive to a river, if the baptismal tank is dry shouldn't the person run to the nearest river, but be sure not to work up a sweat so nobody would think they're trying to earn God's grace. Doesn't baptism have to have two people participating in the act, you and the person dunking you, you are going to another man to Mediate between you and God, 2 Timothy 2:5 "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus." How was Timothy's great, great, great, great grandmother saved?

    I can only humbly ask God to forgive me of my sins, I am a sinner saved by the grace God gives me!!

    Praise God!!

  16. Anonymous,

    I can join you in praising God that He saves all whom He saves by grace through faith apart from works.

    I cannot join you in sneering at an act so beautifully described by Paul in Romans 6:1ff as being into the death of Christ where we are also buried with Him that we might be raised with Him into a new life.

    I remember that this same apostle says we are sons of God by faith "for you have been baptized into Jesus Christ" (Galatians 3:26-27) or that he says a few verses later, "because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts by which you cry 'Abba! Father!" (Galatians 4:6).

    Do I glory in baptism as if it were my Savior? No, I do not. Do I honor Jesus' death by sharing it in a very graphic way in the water as I literally go down into death with Him? Yes, I do. Do I think of it as my "work" of which I can boast? No. It is God's work which saves me and gives me new life.

    How can you so dishonor what God has said in so many ways is important. Meritorious? Not at all! Humbly obedient? Absolutely! Something of which to boast? In no way – except that Jesus has died for me that I might die to self in Him so that I may now live in Him by His grace.

    Do you enjoy mocking the Word of God? Or have you been so misguided that you sincerely believe what you are saying actually honors Him? For your sake, I hope it is the latter – for then there might be some hope for you. If it is the first, Psalm 1 says that your mockery is like the chaff that the wind blows away.

    I'm praying for you that you have only been misguided.

    Jerry

  17. Anonymous says:

    You judge my heart saying I am sneering at baptism and dishonoring the Word of God, I don't believe you were there when I was baptized. I don't believe you could see the honor I held and still hold dear in my heart toward Christ, I don't believe you were there to see that I was already following Christ who saved me and had already begun a new life before I was water baptized. I sneer at how COC'ers look down on others as if you are superior over them using such a beautiful act as baptism to do so.

    You accuse me of mocking the Word of God, yet you guys sit around this blog most the time blasting on other people in the COC denomination who accuse you of mocking the Word of God, Hypocrite!! I am very saddened by many of the arrogant comments on here bearing no fruit of the Spirit at all.

    If you want to accuse me judging my heart, your very words tell me that you don't know my heart at all, it is Christ who strenghtens me, the devil is the accuser of the brethren, while it's God who sees the deepest of our hearts that no one else can see., swelling words and accusations don't hurt me the Pharisees used that tactic very well on people, but it was Christ who sat with and saved the sinners that the Pharisees looked down on.

    God Bless

    God bless

  18. Anonymous,

    I think that you have also judged my heart, as well as ignoring some of what I wrote. I said:

    Do I glory in baptism as if it were my Savior? No, I do not. Do I honor Jesus’ death by sharing it in a very graphic way in the water as I literally go down into death with Him? Yes, I do. Do I think of it as my “work” of which I can boast? No. It is God’s work which saves me and gives me new life.

    Baptism does not make me better than anyone else. I have no reason for boasting in baptism. I deplore those who do feel that way as much as you do. Baptism is not all that's involved in the new birth – and God will still have mercy on whom He will have mercy. I, unlike some who comment on this blog, have no hesitancy in recognizing that.

    Even in physical birth, there is life and movement in the womb. The child is already loved by the parent – before it draws a breath of air. But, if the child never draws that first breath of air, it is still-born. (Is it coincidental that both the Greek and Hebrew words for spirit also mean breath?) While any physical process is not exactly like a corresponding spiritual process, there is enough similarity for the spiritual process to be known as a "new birth" – or a "resurrection".

    In Ezekiel's valley of dry bones, the bones moved and grew bones, sinews, flesh, and skin before the resurrection was complete when God breathed into them the breath of life. I refuse to judge exactly when God gives His spirit in this process or to put Him into a box that says He must do it the same way every time.

    Nevertheless, Acts 2:38, Galatians 3:26-27 and Galatians 4:6 still say what they say. Is that all the Bible says about the subject? No, it isn't. And that has been Jay's point in this series of posts. Some in the church of Christ do not get that. I do, and did long before I heard of Jay Guin. But, having said that, I still do not negate what is said in Acts, Galatians, and many other passages where the beauty of the ritual of baptism is described.

    To mock baptism as you did shows that you are either like those described in Psalm 1:1 or misguided. I prefer to believe you are misguided.

    Jerry

  19. Bruce Morton says:

    Alexander, Anne, Jerry, Rex:
    Just a brief note to share that I have greatly appreciated your Part 7 posts.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  20. Anonymous says:

    I will say again you judge my heart saying I am sneering at baptism and dishonoring the Word of God, I don’t believe you were there when I was baptized. I don’t believe you could see the honor I held and still hold dear in my heart toward Christ, I don’t believe you were there to see that I was already following Christ who saved me and had already begun a new life before I was water baptized?

    You accuse me judging my heart, your very words tell me that you don’t know my heart at all. So you can say keep making your accusation until your face turns blue if that makes you feel good, it is the devil who accuses the brethren, but it is Christ who strengthens me.

    There are not are many methods of salvation as the COC teaches. There is only one method of salvation, since the beginning throughout all time, that is by grace through faith.

    The fact that God sees everyone’s heart is a very important fact that legalist have a hard time grasping. People are not saved performing deeds of the law, we cannot keep the law perfectly. People are saved upon their faith trusting in God alone, we are saved through faith apart from works. Romans 3:28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”

    Acts 2:38 The people were feeling convicted by Peter’s speech, they were starting to wonder if they really had crucified the Christ. In the midst of their conviction the people asked Peter what they should do.

    Peter told the people to repent before they were to be baptized.

    There is more joy in heaven over a sinner who repents.

    Luke 15:7 “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”

    Luke 15:10 “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

    Why is all that joy going on in heaven, I don’t believe heaven rejoices when someone is lost.

    It was after repentance they were baptized for the forgiveness they had already received. Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 3:9 “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.”

    How are we saved by the same faith as Abraham when Abraham wasn’t baptized? How is Timothy and his grandmothers saved by the same faith when they weren’t all baptized?

    Romans 4:2 “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.” The righteous works Abraham performed did justify him that he was seen to others as a great man of God, though the works he did could not justify him before God. The Hebrew Scripture saints were saved the same as we are saved, Isaiah 45:22 “Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” We are all saved the same, Ephesians 2:8-10 “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.”

  21. Anonymous says:

    When Licinius ruled the eastern half of the Roman Empire, it was his intent to eliminate Christianity. Licinius said the army had to be rid of the undesirables: the followers of Jesus Christ and issued an edict that all soldiers had to bow down to the pagan gods. Those who would not bow to the gods of Rome would be made to suffer cruel death. Thus it was unacceptable in 320 when the Legio XII Fulminata: the “Thundering Legion” in the Armenian town of Sebaste was found to have forty Christians who would not pay homage to the Roman gods.

    Furious with their contempt, the judge sent by Licinius sentenced the forty Christians to death. It was winter with a bitter cold wind blowing. The forty Christians were to be stripped naked, and made to stand throughout the night on a frozen pond, left to the elements, the exposure would no doubt kill them. To tempt them, fires were built on shore, with warm baths, blankets, clothing, and hot food and drink, anyone who agreed to bow down to the Roman gods could leave the surface of the pond and come to the shore where they could warm their bones.

    One of the centurions who had been obedient to the gods of Rome, Sempronius, stood guard on the shore and watched the forty Christians stand shivering in the midst of their torture as they were singing and crying out to God joyfully.

    “Oh Lord, forty have come forth to fight for Thee. Grant that forty may gain the victory!”

    One of the forty soldiers standing on the pond gave into the temptation awaiting on the shore, and left the group. The Christians still continued to sing and pray aloud to God.

    Sempronius, watching those who were determined to stay true to their Lord even unto death, stripped off his clothes, ran to the frozen pool to stand with the thirty-nine while yelling out that he is a believer confessing Christ. Sempronius then joined with the thirty-nine other Christians stood naked on the frozen pool.

    By dawn, forty Christians, their number unbroken, died giving glory of God. Among them was Sempronius, who had willingly become a believer and died a believer. Most of the forty Christians had frozen to death during the night. Some were barely alive, but immobile. The bodies of all, were gathered up to be burned.

    The COC denomination’s stance is that Sempronius’ faith couldn’t save him. The COC denomination must declare by their theology, that Sempronius a man who had faith went to hell when he died… Sempronius was never baptized, he only had faith!

  22. Bruce,
    Thank you for your kind words. Visit me at my blog sometime at CommittedToTruth.WordPress.com.
    Jerry

  23. Rich W says:

    Anonymous,

    You said,

    Peter told the people to repent before they were to be baptized. … It was after repentance they were baptized for the forgiveness they had already received. Acts 2:38

    You do recognize that repentance comes before baptism but the same verse shows baptism before forgiveness of sins.

    The situation of Sempronius is a great story. I'm sure that God's grace will prevail in such an extraordinary circumstance. However, I can never teach anything contrary to God's intent. He intends for all to be baptized to obtain (for) the forgiveness of sins.

  24. Anonymous says:

    The word for in the Greek language is used in many different ways just as it is used different ways in the English languge.

    The COC denomination of course will translate it to fit their view.

    Luke 5:12-14 “And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him. And He charged him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded.” The man showed himself, making an offering, for the cleansing he had already gotten.

    Matthew 3:11 ”I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance.” John water baptized unto repentance, the meaning of the word unto is the same meaning in the Greek language as the word “for” is used in Acts 2:38. Water baptism did not cause the repentance, the people were baptized symbolizing they had repented toward God.

    I was baptized for the forgiveness I had already received.

    Acts 2:38 The people were feeling convicted by Peter’s speech, they were starting to wonder if they really had crucified the Christ. In the midst of their conviction the people asked Peter what they should do.

    Peter told the people to repent before they were to be baptized.

    There is more joy in heaven over a sinner who repents.

    Luke 15:7 “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”

    Luke 15:10 “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

    Why is all that joy going on in heaven, I don’t believe heaven rejoices when someone is lost.

    It was after repentance they were baptized for the forgiveness they had already received. Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 3:9 “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.”

  25. Rich W says:

    Anonymous,

    You seem to believe Acts 2:38 says:

    Repent and (be baptized because of the forgiveness of sins)

    How are you so certain it doesn't say:

    (Repent and be baptized) for the forgiveness of sins

    ?

    The latter fits the word choices of most of the English Bible translators.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Many scholars add their own opinion to certain parts rather than what the passage is meaning to say.

    The Pharisees who were very much scholars of Scripture, they interpreted Scripture wrongly not to it's true meaning. Satan himself can quote Scripture, but I wouldn’t take his word on it’s meaning.

    It is up to the person to do a good study, it’s best to do your own study rather than to lean on man’s opinion. It is good to heed wise counsel, but get to know the person before receiving counsel that they are someone who regularly bears the fruit of the Spirit.

  27. K. Rex Butts says:

    Anonymous said refering to Acts 2.38, "The COC denomination of course will translate it to fit their view."

    To my knowledge, the only Biblical Scholar from the CoCs to work on any Bible translation was Jack P. Lewis who helped with some translation work in the Old Testament for the NIV translation. So the way Acts 2.38 is translated in most of the major committe translations has had nothing to do with the CoCs. But why make such an accusation anyways…I don't know what church group you come from but I do know that there no one or no church that is innocent of forcing an interpretation on a biblical text (eisegesis) rather than allowing the biblical text to change their interpretation (exegesis).

    You also make a negative comment about the way scholars sometimes deal with a biblical text saying, "Many scholars add their own opinion to certain parts rather than what the passage is meaning to say." Isn't it funny how we love scholars when they agree with us but become critical of them when their work contradicts what we already believe. You say, "…it’s best to do your own study rather than to lean on man’s opinion." I hate to pop your illusionary bubble but every time you pick up an English translation of the Bible (or any linguistic translation), you are relying on the decisions of scholars…so, unless you are very proficient in reading Hebrew, Greek, and a bit of Aramaic, be thankful for the work of scholars.

    Any ways, from reading some of you anonymous comments, you seem wanting to hang on the idea of God's grace. I just wish you would show a bit more grace to your fellow Christians who attend a local Church of Christ and those who happen to serve the larger but still one body of Christ through their scholarship.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  28. K. Rex Butts says:

    Bruce,

    Thanks for the appreciation. It is certainly reciprocated by me.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  29. Anonymous says:

    Would you give the books that quote Acts 2:38 differently than the New King James Version.

    Too bad there is very rare occasion that you hear a COC'er give kind words about other church denominations, pretty much the closest you can get to that is COC'ers saying something like "the poor things just don't have the Biblical scholars that we have."

    How do you know the church I attend doesn't have people who fluently speak, read and translate Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, guess what there are, aren't I the lucky one.

  30. JMF says:

    Anonymous–

    I've appreciated your posts — especially the one about the roman martyrs. I'd never head that before, and even checked around on it to see if it was authentic. Thanks for sharing that.

    Brother, look — most of us have a COC heritage, and most of us have been scalded as well by scathing, bitter, and hate-filled remarks. I still hear people speak at my church about people in the other denoms as though they are Christ-denying, rebellious idiots.

    But, remember, for every person you feel that has those sentiments, there are probably five others that feel the exact opposite (speaking within our denom). Also, don't forget to be gracious to those people — that nature that they demonstrate is their thorn.

    I was speaking with an elderly COC person a few days ago, and that person told me how scarred they were from an encounter with a vicious Baptist many years ago. He said the guy heckled him and damned him on the spot. This person I was speaking with humbly said, "…and they (Baptists) teach a doctrine that will cause people to be lost."

    He could not see that he was basically the same as the rabid Baptist.

    Thus, we are all sinners, we are all fallen, and we all need grace from God — and one another.

    We in the COC need your grace for the way many of us have behaved in the past (and still do, in some situations).

  31. K. Rex Butts says:

    Anonymous,

    2 things…

    First, I never said anything about who attended your church and who did not. I said"unless [YOU] are very proficient in reading Hebrew, Greek, and a bit of Aramaic…" So even if the worlds greatest scholars attend your church, unless you read the biblical languages yourself, you are still dependent upon the decisions scholars make regarding Bible translations.

    Second, I am sorry that you seem to have encountered the worst of the CoC. As a preacher for a local CoC congregation, let me say that you will never hear me bad-mouthing another church group. I may voice my disagreement with someone but I will never put another person or church group down by condemning or insulting them in order to build myself (and the church I serve) up because I grew up in a CoC congregation that engaged in such immature practices and it makes my stomach turn. In fact, I praise God for the other good that non-CoC churches do in the name of Jesus because I know they are on the same side I am on (cf. Mk 9.38-41).
    …And I know many other CoC preachers, teachers, etc… who share my view.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  32. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your kind words JMF, I really appreciate your posts as well. I don't think all COC'ers are bitter, I know there are some who are very gracious. I just see a lot of the more gracious ones being held back by the more bitter ones from fellowshiping with other churches in their communities, like coming together with other churches to help people. Too many Christians are being ripped apart by that and it is truly sad. Many of the comments on this blog shows evidence of the very reality.

    Again thank you for your kindness.

  33. Rich W says:

    Anonymous,

    We, as an American nation, are learning to be more respectful to one another, especially those with whom we differ. Unfortunately, a rather unforgiving society affected our faith communities as well. A neighbor of ours who interpreted Acts 2:38 just like you once publicly told my mother , in no uncertain terms, she was going to hell. Interestingly, they were both members of the same denomination.

  34. Royce Ogle says:

    There have been many able people as educated or more so than any of us, who debated this issure long before we were even thought of and they didn't resolve the issue and neither will we.

    John's baptism was a baptism "unto repentance". It didn't cause repentance, ti was hot repentance, but identified those who submitted to it as those who had repented.

    If I give my wife a party "for her birthday" the party doesn't cause her birthday, it clelbrates it.

    God has always saved sinners the same way. Those who take him at his word and trust him (faith is obedience) he justifies, he "counts" righteous.

    Wouldn't it be odd if Jesus came in flesh, perfectly met in full all of the demands of the covenant, died a cruel death for sinners, was raised from the dead and is now at the right hand of the Father………and it is now more difficult to be saved than before he came? A woman at a well in Samaria who had a habit of sleeping around and getting divorced, a publican in the street, a thief about to be executed, could all be saved instantly but now God has limited himself?

    Jesus said to Martha, Lazarus' sister "I am the resurrection and the life". He also said, "Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" What would you say if He asked you that question? Do you believe what He said?

  35. Bruce Morton says:

    Royce:
    I am interested to know your thoughts now after some good and important discussion pointing to baptism (immersion) as a saving act of God's grace — a participation in Jesus' death and resurrection.

    Call me an idealist if you wish. I am certain people can hear the Word the same — just as Paul was expecting of the Ephesians as they heard apostolic teaching (Eph. 4:1ff.).

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

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