The Fork in the Road: The Man or the Plan, Part 1

I just got my copy of the October 2010 Spiritual Sword. The issue is dedicated to “What the Church Needs.” Phil Sanders contributes an article entitled “Faith in God’s Plan” (pp. 20 ff). I looked throughout the issue for the article on “Faith in Jesus,” but there was none to be found. So maybe, I thought, Phil had been victimized by a thoughtless headline writer. Surely he would not choose such an unscriptural caption! After all, the New Testament use of “faith” is uniformly “faith in Jesus,” and never, ever faith in a plan!

But the article confirmed my worst fears. The article has sections titled “Believing in God’s Plan,” “Faith in God’s Plan for the Church,” and “Faith in God’s Plan of Salvation.” The article declares,

Faith in God’s plan means that we take our stand that his plan is the right way, the best way, and the only approved way.

Jesus, however, says,

(John 14:6 ESV) 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

For some reason, Jesus thinks we should think of the “way” as Jesus, not a plan by Jesus. The article also asserts,

Instead, those who put their trust in God’s plan of salvation and teach others to do so are Christians who build their houses on the rock.

But Jesus says,

(Mat 7:24 NAS)  24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

Now, Jesus was referring specifically to the words he’d just spoken in the Sermon on the Mount — not the Plan of Salvation. Do you want your house to be built on a rock? Trust Jesus enough to obey his words spoken in the Sermon on the Mount. And the Plan of Salvation, as we teach it, isn’t found there.

To be fair to Phil, he does quote passages that speak of faith in Jesus and salvation by grace. It’s just that these are all incidental to the point he quite plainly emphasizes. Phil is a clear writer, and he makes his point quite clear. Salvation is found by trusting in a plan.

K. C. Moser dealt with this kind of thinking many years ago, quite famously in a tract called “Christ versus a ‘Plan’” (1952). Moser writes,

To be able to quote scripture, and to preach beautiful sermons are not enough.  Nor is it enough to be able to name the conditions of salvation.  A correct understanding of Christ as Saviour is essential to a correct knowledge of the conditions of salvation.  The conditions do relate directly to Christ crucified, and preaching should show this relation.

Exactly! In the foreword, Moser speaks of his own experience and previous errors in the third person —

He was giving “plan” the emphasis that belongs to Christ himself.  It dawned upon him that Jesus did not come to inaugurate another legal system conditioning salvation upon human achievement or human righteousness, but to give his life a ransom for sinners.  … Hence unless and until Christ as a sinoffering is preached it is impossible properly to respond to him.  Merely to obey him outwardly is not enough.  The obedience required in order to salvation must relate directly to him as a sinoffering and express trust in him for salvation.

Yes! It’s all about trust in Jesus himself and his work for us.

After all, the cross is considered but a means to an end, the end being the giving of a “plan”!  Times almost without number I have heard sermons on the conditions of salvation without a single reference to the cross.  I have heard preaching in meeting that lasted for three weeks in which the cross of Christ received only a passing reference.  At no time did the preacher make the cross his theme and teach sinners what Jesus did on their behalf.  But in every sermon a “plan” was considered the gospel unto salvation.

The cross! Yes, Paul wrote regarding his own preaching,

(1Co 1:22-24 NAS)  22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;  23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,  24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

(1Co 2:2 NAS)  2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

Paul’s preaching was Christ and cross focused. This is because we do not and cannot earn our salvation. Rather, we gratefully receive the free gift of salvation earned by Jesus’ sacrifice.

Moser offers these reasons for objecting to the idea of a “plan of salvation” —

Of course, the expression “plan of salvation” is not found in the Bible.  This should be interesting to those who propose to call Bible things by Bible names.  Certainly God has a plan or method of saving sinners, but his plan is Christ crucified. …  Eating is always essential to physical life, but who would think of denominating the mechanical acts of chewing and swallowing a “plan of life”?  No inspired man ever preached a “plan.”  Every one preached Christ crucified. …

The “plan” theory is the product of a misconception of the work of Christ on behalf of sinners. Christ was not another Moses, Jeremiah, or John the Baptist.  He came to save sinners, not by reformation, but by means of an atoning sacrifice.  He did not come to show man how to become his own savior. Christ came to be the Savior.  He gave “himself,” not a “plan”. …

The “plan” theory logically makes the “plan”, not Christ crucified, the means of salvation. Christ, we are told, came to give man a “plan of salvation,” that is, a “plan” by which man is to be saved.  It is easy to see that if sinners are saved by a “plan”, the “plan” becomes the real saving power.  The doctor provides the remedy, but it is the remedy that cures.  Yes, Christ came to provide the “remedy” for sin, but the “remedy” is himself crucified as an offering for sin.  Jesus “offered himself” as the means of salvation (Heb. 7:27; 9:14).  Even John 3:16 teaches this easy lesson….

The “plan” theory logically puts the “plan” where Christ belongs.  That is why some preach a “plan” instead of Christ.  And that is why many have faith in a “plan” as the means of salvation, instead of Christ. …

Faith in a “plan” is devoid of the element of trust, except in the wrong thing.  A sinoffering as naturally demands faith in the sense of trust as food requires eating or water calls for drinking. Jesus did not offer himself as an atoning sacrifice merely as a fact to be intellectually accepted.  He offered himself to be relied upon, to be trusted in.  Christ crucified is as much a challenge to the sinner’s trust as food is a challenge to the hungry man to eat it.  God “gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him” should be saved.  The Son was given to be believed in, that is, to be trusted in, to be relied upon. …

The law, which provided no saving sacrifice, demanded obedience in the general sense.  And if man had been saved by law, his own obedience would have saved him.  Since we are saved by the blood of Christ the principle of salvation must be faith in the sense of trust.  This principle places saving power in Christ crucified, not in human achievement.

Hence those who make obedience in the general sense the condition of salvation to sinners misconceive the meaning of obedience under Christ.  The obedience required means faith or trust in Christ crucified. …

(emphasis in original). That’s a long quotation, but Moser writes too well to let a paraphrase suffice.

Moser doesn’t deny faith, repentance, confession, or baptism. Rather, he denies that those conditions accomplish anything apart from trust in Jesus. Obedience is not enough, or else we’d be replacing one law with another. Rather, God’s covenant doesn’t simply replace Temple sacrifice and circumcision with Five Steps. God’s new covenant gives us the assurance of salvation by causing us to believe, love, and trust a person — Jesus — by the power of his crucifixion and resurrection. And if our “faith” is mere intellectual acceptance and not love and trust, then we are much to be pitied.

In the next post, we’ll consider further why faith in a person is very different from faith in a plan.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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50 Responses to The Fork in the Road: The Man or the Plan, Part 1

  1. K. Rex Butts says:

    I haven't read the latest issue of the Spiritual Sword (nor do I care to) but this is a good post. Not only is the so-called "plan of salvation" a selective mining (a.k.a., proof-texting) of scripture but it also becomes an idol. The object of our faith is Jesus Christ. To make anything else that object is a form of idolatry…and one which history has shown, in this case, to result in and rely upon legalism rather than faith. Such irony!

    Grace and Peace,

    K. Rex Butts

  2. laymond says:

    Jay, when we read Isaih 42, we see that Jesus was, and is "God's Plan"

    Isa 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, [in whom] my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

  3. brian says:

    thanks, wish therehad been a thousand KC Mosers back in his day. the church today would be better off for it

  4. Grizz says:


    Great post. We are called to follow Jesus, not a plan. Following a plan de-personalizes it so that doing surpercedes being and becoming.

    I am praying for Phil to have his eyes opened to all that he seems to be missing in Jesus. I hope that doesn't offend him too much.



  5. Bruce Morton says:

    I believe you know Phil is Christ-centered. Certainly, people can be tempted to separate Christ from His teachings, but I am not convinced Phil is about that task. Nor am I convinced the broad brush strokes you use in this post represent all "Conservative" hearts accurately — or help folks toward oneness.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  6. Trent Tanaro says:

    Great post Jay!
    The plan is essential and part of Biblical teaching, but it is not to be placed in front of Christ, its author. Both are of significance!
    I agree with Brian, need more Moser's!!

    Trent Tanaro

  7. laymond says:

    Trent, surely you don't intend to say Jesus was the author of the Gospel message.

    Mar 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
    Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
    1Th 2:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

    1Ti 2:5 For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
    Gal 3:20 Now a mediator is not [a mediator] of one, but God is one.
    Jesus was the medium of communication, he brought a message from God to men.
    Jesus was not the author of that message, (plan) he was the carrier of that message. (If you don't believe me ask him) I will help point out his words if needed.

  8. Trent Tanaro says:

    Yes.sir! All three where involved. Father, Son, and Spirit! Carrier He also was and still is today.

  9. Trey Morgan says:

    The Spiritual Sword comes to my mailbox even though I never requested it. What few I've actually read have left me shaking my head in frustration.

    Thanks for

  10. Trey Morgan says:

    The Spiritual Sword comes to my mailbox even though I never requested it. What few I've actually read have left me shaking my head in frustration.

    Thanks for your words here.


  11. laymond says:

    "Yes.sir! All three where involved. Father, Son, and Spirit!"

    Jhn 12:44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
    Jhn 12:49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
    Jhn 12:50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
    (the Son of God only conveyed the words given to him, by his father, by his own words)

    Jhn 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
    ( the spirit of truth, will only convey the words of God, by Jesus' own words)

    Trent, I have shown you in scripture what you said is wrong, now show me by scripture where I am wrong, by saying it was God's plan, enacted by Jesus.

  12. Trent Tanaro says:

    Point proven….you now have your reward in full….

  13. Jay thanks for calling attention to the SS. I do not read that publication anymore so I will need to order this copy for my files. You are right to bring in Moser and Phil will disagree with Moser. Moser was a great man. I have been writing a book about him for sometime. Here is a link to an overview of his life on my blog

    Bobby Valentine

  14. K. Rex Butts says:


    As I said in my first comment, I have not read the Spiritual Sword (nor do I care do so much). That being said, I am quite sure all of the contributors, including Phil Sanders, want to be Christ centered. I cannot imagine anyone affiliated with the Churches of Christ who would not want to be Christ-centered. But "wanting to be something" and "being something" are two different things.

    Based on my prior knowledge of what is taught in the Spiritual Sword, I would not described that as Christ-centered but dogma/creed-centered. By that I mean the continued treatment of the New Testament as a constitution-like writing that can be mined by use of proof-text which ends up creating an unwritten dogma or creed that becomes the standard by which faithful Christianity is measured. That is very different than setting the life Jesus lived as the standard.

    That of course, is not to say that the lives of those writing for the Spiritual Sword do not reflect Jesus in any way. It is simply to point out that their standard for faithful Christianity is not Jesus but their own dogma/creed. Many Christians, perhaps even I, are guilty of that. They just seemed to be oblivious to the error (an error, ironically, which they have often accused other denominations of).

    No where in scripture are we called to follow the first-century church or any other historical period of the church. We are called to follow Jesus. Taking the New Testament and turning it into a second-law from which a selective proof-texting method in concert with other philosophical principles and regulations to erect a dogma/creed and claim that adherence to this dogma/creed is the faith God seeks from his children, is not following Jesus and being Christ-centered.

    But I do remember that we all fall short of living the life Jesus lived…I am the worse…and so we make our plea upon the blood of Jesus Christ for mercy and forgiveness from all of our follies.

    Grace and Peace,


  15. Good post, Jay. Preaching Christ crucified is of the upmost importance.

  16. abasnar says:

    But isn't that just a semantic game you play here? I mean, can we really judge a persons attitude just by the words or phreases he uses?

    Of course, we put our faith in our Lord Jesus, but then we trust also in the wisdom of His plan, even though it sounds foolish to men. I don't think, the author made an idol of the plan, so the way he is represented here, is (most likely) a misrepresentation.

    On the other hand: We can claim to have faith in Jesus, but at the same time pick and choose concerning His plans (or will). Isn't there a lot of "Freedom-phraseology" araound with those who claim to have faith in Jesus, which in fact means: I want Jesus but not His plan/way/will …

    I don't point my finger on anyone … just an observation from my perspective …


  17. David Millican says:

    I also have heard and read many of Brother Sanders things and believe you to be giving an unfair account to him.

    He is using a Metonymy (possibly a synecdoche) here for the (insert whatever word you wish here) way God has chosen to deliver salvation. God (the Father) is the authority by which this has taken place. This is because Jesus chose it to be so, He speaks often about the Father being the originator (in an accommodating sense). The word plan here is simply another way of saying the things God has purposed in His mind to happen. And yes it is in Scripture that He did make a decision and then carry it out.

    Acts 2:22 "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know–

    23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

    This inspired statement shows that God decided this and put it into action. This is not to downplay any role that Jesus had in it, but it is not incorrect to state that this was God's plan.

    Acts 5:38 "So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown;

    39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God."

    What were Peter and the Apostles teaching? Jesus crucified and raised. Yet Gamaliel clearly saw it as they were doing the work, action, plan, counsel (all words to say the same thing) of God. That is teaching Jesus is God's plan!

    Acts 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.

    36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?"

    According to the philosophy of "God's plan of Salvation does not include Jesus' crucifixion" Then preaching "Jesus does not include baptism" So obviously the eunuch came to that conclusion by miraculous means?

    You know that to be ridiculous! Preaching Jesus includes all of the things required to come to Him. Just as God's plan of salvation includes all of the things He put into motion including the sacrifice and triumph of His Son.

    As far as exchanging one law for another, are you saying we are not under law?

    1 John 3:4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

    So if there is no law then there is no sin (See Romans)! Of course we are under law, otherwise it would be left up to us to decide what is good and what is right. If we are not diligently applying ourselves to the study and dissection of these scriptures how are we to come about the knowledge of how to live our lives modeled after Jesus.

    And I do agree that sometimes we do nitpick at things that should be left alone (such as whether it is wrong or right to say that there is a plan of salvation) but that is a human consequence of study. I would much rather have little squabbles over little things than be ignorant of the truth from a lack of diligent study.

    Brother Guin,
    As a way of question rather than accusation, have you made Brother Sanders aware of your article or concerns? If not it would seem disingenuous of you talking behind his back. What if this is a matter of misunderstanding? Brother Sanders is after all a man and given to mistakes as such.

    In God's love

  18. Brent. says:

    I was taught since I was young that we demonstrate our trust and faith in Jesus, the one who is the attoning sacrifice for us, by listening to his word, trusting in his word, and responding to his word. When we hear his word, our hearts respond with trust and faith by believing it. As our hearts are drawn to him (we are cut to the heart) we respond by changing our mindset to live as Jesus would live . . . repenting of the things that separate us from God . . . repenting of the lifestyle choices that crucified Jesus. We follow Jesus to the water and join with him in the water for the forgiveness of sins knowing that nothing we do actually merits the grace that God has been at work to bring to all men. Our hearts beat with joy knowing that God loves us and has made the necessary preparations for us to sit at the feast with Jesus. And as we live out the calling that our hearts are drawn to, our lives are a continual confession of "Jesus is Lord".

    Labeling this all as the plan of salvation seems to place the emphasis in the wrong things. Jesus is the one we adore. Not a plan. And if we adore Jesus, our hearts will respond to his word.

    I think we all know why someone like Phil Sanders speaks like he does. We know what the concerns are. The concerns are rooted in the widspread baptism of infants and in baptisms that aren't "for" the forgiveness of sins. Many of our forefathers taught us (without really stating it this way) that God expects perfection in the conversion process, but that he forgives us of our weaknesses after conversion. And to solve the problem, what do we do? We come up with a plan so that the conversions of sinners can be perfect. And then we can all have a sigh of relief because God can now start forgiving us all (post baptism) of the weaknesses that we know we will never completely overcome in this life.

    Believing that we need a perfect conversion is what has driven us to de-emphasize Jesus and to place the emphasize on a plan that is going to help us have that perfect conversion.

    We all like our sleep, don't we? We should sleep peacefully at night knowing that Jesus is our saviour. Some of us have learned to sleep peacefully at night because we have a plan for a perfect conversion.

  19. David Millican says:


    Since you are so inclined to speak as to Brother Sanders intentions, let me likewise speak to your intentions.

    It is well known that those who wish to down play the the steps, actions, requirements or whatever else you call them are doing so because they wish to fellowship with and accept those who have not followed such. They wish to move to a set of rules that requires only a cursory acknowledgment of Jesus as a savior and no other life change. You wish to be one with all those who call them selves Christians yet have not done those things that God has set forth in order to become one.

    I have no idea if this is what you believe or not, I do not know your heart. I do know that speaking if as I did would be a grave mistake on my part.

    And as I stated in the previous post, God put into place this "plan of salvation" at it is not just the steps you must do. It was established before time and guided by His hand through time.

    Even Jesus acknowledge such
    Matthew 26:39
    And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will."

    In God's love

  20. If I misunderstood Jay's point, I'm quite open to being corrected … but I believe it to have been a matter of emphasis. The plan is not the heart of the gospel; the justice and mercy of God expressed in Jesus Christ, His Son, IS.

    When a preacher diminishes that by omission or de-emphasis and says, "Well, that goes without saying," we should respond, "And so should you!" The gospel should never "go without saying."

    (Isn't the plan about which the quotes above speak – isn't it God's plan in sending His Son, whether it mentions specific ways to respond to it or not? God's plan rather than man's plan to reduce the ways to respond to respond to just five quantifiable, easy-to-swallow, performable-quickly-in-church-settings steps which can only begin the journey of salvation – becoming more Christ-like – but cannot complete it?)

  21. laymond says:

    Brent said, "I was taught since I was young that we demonstrate our trust and faith in Jesus"

    Yes, I have been taught the same, but maybe we see this faith in Jesus a little differently. First we need to have faith that Jesus is truly the Son of God, else the rest of the story has no value at all.
    I don't know about all churches of Christ, but all I have attended, the question they ask before baptism goes something like this, "Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God" if you answer "yes" to this, the rest of the plan will come more slowly.

  22. David Millican says:


    You are correct that we do need to say it, but you must also acknowledge the audience being addressed. This article (as I understand it) was not to the lost and unbelieving, but rather the church, made up of those very people who have accepted the Christ as their savior. The omission in no way diminishes His role, but rather is focusing on a different aspect of the same issue.

    This very same literary device is found several times throughout the Bible and is called an Ellipsis.
    Paul used one 1 Corinthians 1:17. It is the suppression or omission (the Greek definition of the word) of one or more parts of speech that are implied to the hearer or reader.

    Any member of the church would know that God's plan included Jesus. But God's plan is more than just the steps we need to take, it is the very nature of our salvation.

    It is God who by His justice demands punishment for sin, and yet by His mercy provides a way out of that punishment. He accepted Jesus' sacrifice as payment for our sin, He designed it such, so that we may have that hope.

    So are we to take God (the Father) out of the equation and say that it was Jesus that did it all? I know you believe that to be a ridiculous statement.

    There is a design to our salvation, there was foreknowledge and thought put into it. If the word "plan" angers you then find a new word, but to me the word plan captures it perfectly. God did all that He did purposefully. He chose Abraham, He made Israel a great nation, He gave the reign to Judah, and He brought forth His Son.

    If we started saying Jesus' plan, would that be satisfactory? Or would there then be those who cried out "where is God in this plan"?

    No matter how you want to say it, God made it happen, Jesus went through it, and we reap the benefit. There is only one way to God and it is through the instructions He has given us by His Holy Spirit. (Which state that Jesus is the way)

    As for the five steps, first I must say that they are neither easy to swallow or quickly performed. If anyone is teaching them as such, then they are very, very wrong. But I understand that there may be some limitations to placing them in steps like that, but instead of tearing that method down (which has given life to many Christians) teach me a better way. How would you express to the lost the path to Jesus' Blood?

    To the forum and the world in general (not just to Keith)

    Be very careful about what you say against someone who is ceaselessly preaching the gospel of Christ. Brother Sanders has done much for the Lord and I would not want to be guilty of quenching the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19)

    In God's love

  23. Rich W says:


    This post is very reminiscent of the last "Contending for the Faith" I read back in the eighties. You call out a well meaning brother by name. You manipulate what he says by adjusting his vocabulary to your connotations and then tell the world how evil his extreme teaching is.

    God planned our salvation from the beginning, Gen 3:15. What's wrong with that? Faith in Jesus is far more than just believing He exists, James. We might argue the exact scope of the concept of faith in the Bible. But it is far more than accepting Jesus' existence. It affects our entire lifestyle.

  24. David, you said, "Any member of the church would know that God’s plan included Jesus." Would any member of this article's audience be uncertain about the plan Bro. Sanders was sharing? If the article reached someone outside of that intended audience, would it have the same appeal to the lost?

    You added, "If the word “plan” angers you then find a new word …" The word doesn't anger me at all. God did have a plan, in Christ. As I said, I think the problem is one of emphasis.

    And then, "As for the five steps, first I must say that they are neither easy to swallow or quickly performed." (Yet they are frequently preached as if the response of Pentecost should be expected at their enumeration – even though Peter pretty much settled on only two.)

    The questions I meant to imply are, "Why just five steps? Where in scripture does one find the number five associated with steps to becoming more like Christ? Is God's plan a 'one-quintet-fits-all' offer? Aren't there dozens of other ways besides these five taught and exemplified by Jesus that draw us closer to God through Him, 'work[ing] out' one's own salvation? Isn't it possible that some of those ways involve combinations of God-given gifts and skills that are unique to individual believers?"

    I'm not sure I would want to be responsible for trying to oversimplify and reduce what God has planned as a life-long endeavor.

  25. John says:

    How does one have faith in Jesus?

  26. David Millican says:


    There would be a point of contradiction is saying that someone in the church is "uncertain" about the plan of salvation. How did they get in the church then? And yes there are those not of the faith that might read this article, but if I am to address every possible person that might over the course of who knows how many years read it, then any article I write will be endless.

    There is a certain amount of concession made in any writing (the Bible being the exception) that the unintended audience will need additional information to fully understand the writing. Even in your response to me you quoted working out one's own salvation. If a non-believer, or a Catholic, or a Calvinist were to read this blog, what would they think of your comment.

    Once again how does the emphasis on "God's plan of salvation" take any emphasis away from Jesus. They are the same thing, God (the Father) is the authority behind that, by Jesus' own choice. Putting the emphasis on God is putting the emphasis on Jesus.

    I said there were some limitations to the concept of five steps, but as I see it is more about accommodating language than hard fast steps. And I think that most would agree, it is not a mathematical formula, but simply requirements needed to be saved.

    And how exactly did Peter only use two? They heard the message, believed that message (that Jesus was both Lord and Savior), confessed that belief (what must we do to be saved implies that I accept that Jesus is the Christ and I am guilty concerning His death), repented and were baptized.

    And no there conversion there was not quick. Anyone who has done anything harmful to another human being in a moment of passion does not easily get over it. Especially if that something leads to that persons death. They cried out for His death, in anger, that would not soon leave them.

    As for the five steps, I don't know anyone who would say that is the end of it. They are simply the five steps to your rebirth in a newness of life. In fact most people I know add a sixth one in there saying you must live a faithful godly life. If there is another way to Jesus again I reiterate, teach it to me,

    You say there could be many combinations of different things leading to this salvation? What are they? Are they limitless? Who is to decide which combination for which person? How do you know if you have the right combination? How do I know which combination to teach? How do I know where to start with the person I am studying with? How much do I have to learn about these people before I know what to study?

    And truly, I am not mocking you by saying teach me! I am not God (Job 38:3), and therefore I am capable of error. But I am not willing to accept a teaching unless it is thoughtfully and orderly laid out for me with evidence to support it.

    Have you read the article? I have not had a chance to, I will next week when I can get my hands on a copy. How do you know that Brother Sanders is oversimplifying things. It seems that movement away from an orderly approach would over complicate things or remove any responsibility from humanity to respond to Jesus.

    Rich W

    Thank you for your words, it is said to see the brotherhood tearing itself down.

    In God's love

  27. K. Rex Butts says:

    Ah… I love the old tiresome sectarian argument that "we're" Christians but "the're" (the others who call themselves Christians) are really not because they've not done the things that scripture teaches as necessary to become a Christian.

    What makes one so sure they've done what scripture teaches as necessary? What makes one so sure they understand correctly everything that scripture teaches as necessary? What if they are wrong? And if they are, how will they ever be saved since according to their view one cannot be saved if one is in error on any of these matters? How is this not faith in one's own ability to reason and delineate scripture?

    – K. Rex Butts

  28. I don't believe I said Bro. Sanders is oversimplifying things.

  29. Gregory Alan Tidwell says:


    I am impressed. You have accomplished something I could never have pulled off….getting Bobby Valentine to order an issue of the Spiritual Sword.

    Let's hope Bobby continues his Sanders reading to include the sequel to _Adrift_ which will soon be released by the Gospel Advocate Company. (The same fine publishing house which brought you _The Way of Salvation_ by K. C. Moser.)

    Speaking of Gospel Advocate, Jay, I must say you have hurt my feelings. You have spent all this time reviewing Phil's article and you have not said one thing about my latest piece in GA. I use to be able to count on your sharp pen to engage our points of difference.


  30. Brent says:

    My words were not meant to tear anything down . . . but to emphasize God's desire for our hearts. I believe God leads those who love him to the path that reconciles them to him. Even if they don't get it completely right. God is cheering for those who love him to make it across the finish line. I believe if we run to the finish line but don't make it all the way, I believe he runs to us from the finish line . . . picks us up and help us make it to the finish . . . even if we don't get it all right. As long as we believe, and trust, and love him with all our hearts. And the reason I believe this is because of the "plan" God has had from the beginning to restore creation. You know . . . all that stuff he did with foreknowledge.

    I have come to this realization only recently. We could adopt a view of God that says he only accepts those who love him and get it all right at the beginning, and that those people alone will be saved. That would mean that God does not accept those who love him but mistake some important aspect of baptism, and that those people are damned despite there love for God. And that our God won't do anything about it. He is just going to stand at the finish line and look the other way, like one of those characters in the Good Samaritan story.

    That is a view of God that says our own earthly fathers are more capable of love and forgiveness than the creator God. That cannot be.

    I have come to realize that our emphasis is misdirected. Baptism is not the sign we should be looking for to know if someone is saved. It is the fruits of the spirit that we should look for. And when we find those fruits of the spirit in a person who acknowledges Jesus as Lord . . . then we know that person is a person of God. We can no longer deny the fruits of the Spirit we see in others as being something that is not of God. The fruits of the Spirit is the mark! That's what I hope others see in me. It is much more important than "Have you been baptized for the right reason?" "Have you followed the 5 Step Plan?"

    We have strong biblical evidence that plainly teaches us that God punishes those who disobey him out of hearts that are turned against him.

    We have no biblical evidence that suggests that God damns those who sincerely love him but who don't fully understand what he has said. None. Notta.

    If anything, we should be praying for God's mercy . . . realizing that we may have more of this salvation thing wrong than we have it right. But then it is God's will to reconcile creation to himself. Such a god is merciful.

    and to realize that God is the one who is at work. Yes, it is God who is at work, and he may work differently in different people. I have come to realize that when we see others who have not understood everything perfectly (as we think they should) but we see fruits of the spirit in their lives and they attribute it to faith. And they weren't meant to imply that our brother Sanders isn't worth his weight in gold. I'm sure that he is. And I do not doubt his faith or his place in heaven.

    However, something is amiss in the 4, 5 or 6 step plan of salvation.

  31. Brent says:

    I just read my last post. The last several sentences sound like I may be half asleep. Maybe I am. I must be.

  32. David Millican says:

    K. Rex Butts

    Did you expect me to understand your post? I know that you did, and therefore you believe that you have the ability to communicate your thought adequately enough to be understood. Yet somehow God, the Creator of our mind, ears, voices, and language is not able to communicate adequately enough to be understood. How much arrogance can one statement contain?

    Do not misunderstand, I hold no ill feelings towards you whatsoever, but I hold nothing for contempt for the argument that the Scripture can not be understood!

    The very nature of God demands that He be able to communicate to His creation. The Scripture speaks to this over and over again, it even demands it. (Nehemiah 8:2, Psalms 119:130, Daniel 9:2, Joshua 8:34-35, Matthew 9:13, Matthew 12:3, 5, 7, Matthew 13:23, Matthew 22:29, • Matthew 24:15, Ephesians 3:3-4, John 7:17)
    The very Creation speaks to the understanding of God
    Psalm 19:1-2, Romans 1:18-24

    Romans is particularity telling here, the invisible attributes can be clearly seen. This word play says that God's existence is plainly understood from nature, but reason must be used.

    If God can create the world so perfectly that it sings of His presence, then How much clearer would the direct or special revelation of His Word be.

    Yes we can understand the Scripture, to say otherwise is to say God cannot deliver a understandable message.

    Once again I hold no ill will for you, but while all of the other arguments are over understanding yours is an attack on God's nature.

    In God's love

  33. David Millican says:


    I am sorry if I misunderstood your intentions, but when you stand up in defense of someone who is tearing down, then it is hard to tell the difference.

    First I would like to address the issue of "getting it right at the beginning". There is no question in my mind that every person that loves God and desires to be with Him will get it right. How can I be so confident, because God Himself has given me such a promise.
    Matthew 7:7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 "Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 "Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

    This is not just some random passage, but a rock solid promise that if you seek you will find, if you ask it will be given. You are correct, God wishes that none would perish ( 2nd Peter 3:9) but are they coming on their terms or His.

    Which leads us into the question of understanding. See my last post for a more thorough discussion of the understandability of God's Word. But to address the issue of God requiring understanding, I give you Matthew 9:13, Matthew 22:29. Jesus held them accountable for not understanding and not knowing the Scriptures. This is easily understood by a basic American law, ignorance of the Law is no excuse. Why because everyone can learn the law, the same holds for God. All men are without excuse when it come to the existence and nature of God (See Romans 1:18-24) and combine that with God's promise and we have assurance that if we seek God we will find the truth.

    Which brings me to the concept understanding salvation through the fruits of the Spirit. But how may I ask is one to come into contact with the Spirit? Do all men have the Spirit and therefore able to manifest His works regardless of views concerning salvation. I know plenty of very good Buddhist monks that would fit that very description. But we know that idolaters have no part in the kingdom of Heaven. If the Spirit is not in all men, then who is it in?

    It is clear that you must be saved to be have any part of the Holy Spirit, for God can not be a partaker of evil. Hebrews 6:4 shows that we must be made partakers of the Spirit. So then we must be saved BEFORE we can have the fruits.

    It confuses me this need to muddy the water so to say. Which do you think God would want us to have. A clear easy to follow path to Him, with a definite point of salvation so that we may be confident in it? Or a lets just feel our way through, not ever really knowing if I am saved, especially if in the beginning I don't understand things correctly or I have trouble overcoming struggles from my fleshly desires and the fruits aren't manifesting themselves much in my life.

    My God is clear and understandable and makes it easy on me. The only trouble I see is when man's desire to do it his way enters the picture.

    I too am getting tired, I feel as though I am losing focus and may reread this in the morning to find that I have made no sense. I will address any errors I made in the morning.

    Goodnight to all

    In God's love

  34. With great love and respect for all the brothers…We sound like a bunch of grouchy old men who have nothing to do.

  35. John says:

    As of yet, no one has answered my question, "How does one have faith in Jesus?" Any takers?

  36. Bruce Morton says:

    Thank you for your post; it is kind. And you highlight well the temptations we face. I appreciate that. Also, let me confirm, if a question for any, that I do indeed believe K.C. Moser was on target by his, "a false doctrine of justification is as effective an enemy of Christ as irreligion." (Moser, The Way of Salvation, 123). And I know that Phil believes likewise.

    "The Plan" is not necessarily "we do." It can also be in the hearts of people a matter of following Christ — a focus on Him. Including in baptism where we submit, we do not "do." We submit to God's grace in the action (which I know you believe as well). That, more than anything, misinformed at one time. I hope less the case now (though I do still hear some folks — both "Progressive" and "Conservative" — talking about baptism as something we "do.").

    My concern is that Jay's condensing to "the Man" or "the Plan" can cozy us up to the same danger he is seeking to alerting us to. In a land of text messages and sound bites, One in Jesus, Spiritual Sword, and any given Bible lesson all face the same spiritual threat.

    Hope that helps. I give thanks for your faith, Rex.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  37. K. Rex Butts says:

    Apparently I was misunderstood…how is that possible?

    I never suggested that scripture is not understandable. I only suggested that that we are still fallible and prone to misunderstanding just it is claimed that other Christians misunderstand; that if there is grace for us who misunderstand them it must be for others (rather than condemning them); that the claim we know we are right because we have reasoned, studied, and delineated scripture correctly (which I heard all the time growing up in a CoC and just a brother in Christ where I preach reiterate this past week) is faith in our human intellect (a product of modernism) rather than faith in Jesus Christ.

    Grace and Peace,

    K. Rex Butts

  38. David, I would be happy to share at least a handful of teachings that Jesus delivered – and these are just a few from the gospel of Luke:

    “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.”

    “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

    “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.”

    “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. “

    “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

    “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.”

    “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

    “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

    “Go and do likewise.” (referring to the actions of the good Samaritan)

    “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (teaching about prayer)

    “Be on your guard about the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (to His disciples)

    “”I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”

    “… And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”

    “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

    “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.”

    “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. … But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

    “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”

    “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. … You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

    “”Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison.”

    “… But unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

    “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

    “So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

    “Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them.” (to His disciples; on false messiahs)

    “… For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

    “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.

    “”This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

    These are all teachings which, if followed, lead one to becoming more like Christ and draw one closer to the Father; they are salvational. They're not an exhaustive list; I didn't want to chew up millions of Jay's pixels.

    When you ask which does God want, "A clear easy to follow path to Him, with a definite point of salvation so that we may be confident in it? Or a lets just feel our way through, not ever really knowing if I am saved, especially if in the beginning I don’t understand things correctly or I have trouble overcoming struggles from my fleshly desires and the fruits aren’t manifesting themselves much in my life," you have gone right to the heart of the matter.

    I believe what God wants is a life-long relationship of TRUST in Him; and the kind of knowing regarding one's salvation isn't built on what he/she has done, but on acceptance of what Christ has done and wants to continue to do through him/her.

    To insist on being certain through the tangible, the accomplishable, the legally-required minimum is not a position that comes from faith and trust. It is simply a transaction, like purchasing an item or paying a fine or returning a library book.

  39. Larry Short says:

    Wow Jay, you have brought the chicken and egg argument to a new height! Which is greater, the obedient Son obeying God the Father's will (chicken) or the God who fully revealed his plan for mankind in His Son (the egg)? Several problems with all of this. I hear A. Campbell saying, "I told them to use Bible names", that is the will of God, not the plan.
    Is it better that we beleive and obey the will of God, or His Son? They are the same. Unfortunately we ALL make God's will or Jesus, or pet understanding, our steps, emphasize our righteousness, deemphasize our sins, etc. Every now and then we need to be smacked by the reality of God, Father (plan) or Son (obedience) and realize how far we are from that holy mark.
    I does not matter if your forcus is 'Jesus', the will of God or the plan of salvation, if you make any of them your defined Jesus, will or plan. Always, the true Jesus, will or plan is eternal, living and always in need our reeciving afresh. It talks to us, supports us, makes us live by the power of Divinty, not our conception.
    Lots of people make up their Jesus. You know that guy who accepts us all, even though we don't honor his examples, be it being immersed in water, feeding the hungry, rendering to Ceasar, or obedience to God ("not my will but yours…"). People make up the will of God by reading the Bible and highlighting 5 steps, or right titles for the church or its leaders. Just like the Pharasees, they lead sacrifical lives, sacrificing their lives to their list (their plan, their Jesus) but "I want mercy, not sacrifice", continued goodness to God and fellow man (both living) not the list.
    So, which is greater the Son who obeyed the will (plan) or the Father, or the will (plan) of the Father? They are one! But they are not our Jesus or our will (list), instead its the eternal God in all flavors.

  40. K. Rex Butts says:

    Bruce, I appreciate your kind response. I'm not sure I follow how Jay's post leads to the same thing he opposes. I do believe baptism, as you say, is not what we do but our submission to the grace of God (that's a good way of putting it). Yet I still believe that as much as we try to understand the teachings of baptism and practice accordingly, we still could be wrong. But our salvation is not dependent on whether we get such things right (that doesn't mean we should not try to have right understanding), rather it is dependent upon God…by grace through faith (cf. Eph 2.8). That is why I believe those who even don't share our understanding of baptism are saved Christians and members of the one body of Christ (believers in traditions such as Baptist, Pentecostal, Reformed, Catholic, etc…who profess the name of Jesus Christ as Son of God, Lord and Savior) because they to live by the grace of God through faith, striving to live submissively even if their understanding is wrong. Just how many belong to Christ then…that is God's job to know.

    So I'm speaking against what I perceive to be a long history in the CoC of placing our faith and confidence in our epistemological abilities (which, to some, seem incapable of any flaws).

    Grace and Peace,

    K. Rex Butts

  41. Doug says:

    There's nothing inherently wrong with "the plan" except that it seems that too many people may be content to stop there, right after "be baptized. If one is living a good life, worshipping regularly, giving their tithe… they stop short of the joy of living in "the man". They may have dotted the i's and crossed the t's but what about the Jesus living in them? The "plan" only gets a person to the starting gate, the race may start there but the real race is still before them. The true evidence of being a disciple is in how they run and complete the race.

    Jesus said in John 13:35: "By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another". If you are a true disciple and Jesus is living in you, your eyes will see other members of the Church and other people who aren't yet in the Chruch through the eyes of Christ. If you see through Christ's eye's you won't see so critically but rather lovingly. That's the true evidence of being a disciple of Christ… not adherence to checking off on the points of a "plan".

    Yes, I have friends that I believe are disciples of Christ who haven't completed the plan to the CofC's satisfaction. The evidence of their discipleship is found in their love for me and others. I encourage them from time to time to complete the plan as I understand it but the evidence of their life tells me that they have Jesus alive in them. Incidently that evidence many times seems stonger than found with others who have fufilled the plan to the CofC's satisfaction. I may not be looking at this correctly but that's where I am right now.


  42. Grizz says:

    John, on October 16th, 2010 at 6:01 am Said:
    As of yet, no one has answered my question, “How does one have faith in Jesus?” Any takers?

    Grizz replies: John, you get to know who Jesus is and what He taught/teaches, and then you decide if you are willing to trust Him with your life now and in the future. If so, you have faith by trusting Him and doing whatever He tells His followers (including you) to do.

    So you have to listen to Him by reading or listening to the gospels. You can read them, hear them recited via tape, CD, or mp3 player, or hear them preached. And then you have to decide whether to surrender your life to His will and follow Him without question … or not. If you decide to have faith, then you die to sin and bury the old man in a water grave to be raised to newly created life in Jesus – to walk wherever He leads you for the rest of the life of your soul.

    It's kind of like having faith in a chair. You can claim to have faith, but if you refuse to sit down, your faith is useless and dead. If you put your full weight down on the chair, then your faith is expressed by trusting it to hold you.

    If you have faith in Jesus, you show by your surrender and your obedience to Him that you trust Him. As long as you trust Him, your faith lives.



    PS – I can give you some passages to read, but this should suffice to answer your question for now.

  43. David Millican says:

    To the Forum,

    Thank you for the opportunity to engage in this discussion. As always any time I get to talk about God and His will for us it gets me all excited and leaves me with warm fuzzes inside. This however will be my last post as I do have a great many other things to do, and cannot devote any more time to this particular thing. I hope that no one bears me ill will as I bear no one else such.

    The question that lies is one of epistemological origins, and not of simply feelings. The question as it stands, "Is there one way to enter into a relationship with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit or is there many.

    This comes down to the ability of God to communicate His Will and teachings to man. K. Rex Butts you say that you believe that the Scriptures are understandable but we can't be sure we understand them. The very definition of the word understandable states that we can know. Otherwise they would not be understandable, but mysterious or cloudy.

    I, being an adult with some limited education, can effectively and understandably communicate my basic instructions to a one year old just learning the basics of language. Further more I can effectively communicate my will to my dog, and expect to be understood. Why is this? I being a man of rational thought can evaluate the circumstances in which I am trying to communicate and choose a method suited for the task. I know what the child and the dog understand and use those things to bring about their understanding of my will.

    How much more is the Creator of the universe able to communicate effectively His Will. If I trust that every morning that the sun will rise, am I trusting the sun or the one who made the sun? If I trust in gravity working every time am I trusting in gravity or the one who made gravity? If I trust in my ability to understand the commands and will of God according to His Holy Scripture am I trusting in myself or the one who gave me the ability to understand.

    If I do not know for sure whether or not I have understood correctly, then you do not know for sure whether you are right. Where then is your authority to teach me? If there is no knowledge which we can be certain of, how can we know that God exists?

    If I can know that God exists, then I can know that He has given me knowledge that I can understand. I would hate to doubt in my understanding of what God requires of me, for everyday I would fear the coming judgment for I would not know where I stood. This is in direct contrast to the attitude of the Apostle Paul who eagerly awaited that coming day!

    But David, you say, I have never said that we can't know that we are saved. You say that you believe in Baptism and it's part in bringing you into a relationship with Jesus. Well either it does or it does not. This whole argument is just the evil of relativism rearing it's ugly head again. It is up to each individual to find his/her path to the Lord. Are they then not relying on their intellect and ability to reason?

    The Laws of Thought are well applied here. A thing is itself, a thing can not be true and false, and any precisely stated proposition is either true or false. Baptism is the joining of the believing, confessed, repentant sinner to Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection in to a newness of life. What is this newness of life, is it a physical rebirth? No we know that it is a rebirth of our sin condemned soul into the salvation of God. We are sinless at that point having been made anew. It is nothing less it is nothing more.

    If it is the way to join with Jesus in His death and His resurrection, can it "not be the way" at the same time? A thing can not be true and false at the same time! If it is the way, then it is the way!

    So then if there is ONE body of Christ and there is one Spirit, and there is one gospel (That Jesus died was buried and was raised on the third day, and gave His disciples the command concerning His teachings and baptism), and there is is one baptism and that baptism is the way into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 1212-13) then there is one way into the body of Christ.

    You say their works manifest their connection to Christ? So by their works they are able to enter into a union with Christ? Of course I know you don't believe that! But how then were they able to enter into a union with Christ? At what time were their sins remitted so that they may be joined with the Father?

    You say that there is more than one way into the Body of Christ? Where is this principle taught?

    Romans 5:18
    So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.

    One act brought us justification and One act joins us to that Act of justification.

    1 Corinthians 1
    16 Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other.
    17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.  18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

    What was it that he was preaching? It was the gospel of Jesus Christ which included baptism! This is evident by the fact that he had to clarify that he was not there to just baptize, but to preach.

    Galatians 3
    25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.

    How much clearer can God get? You who are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, why are you sons? For you were baptized into Christ (His death, burial, and resurrection in a newness of life joined to His Body) and therefore you belong to Christ!

    And finally
    Ephesians 4
    1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

    There is a manner in which you have been called, it is in a Unity of the Spirit according to one Body, one Spirit, one hope of our calling on Lord, one Faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of us all. Our calling and our baptism are stated in the singular. This is paired with One God, so it can not be stated that it is one calling for each of us and that calling may be different, for then there would be one god for each of us and that god may be different.

    One of the hardest things to deal with in life is that there is an eternal punishment for sin. And there are those who will receive that punishment. I deal with people in my own physical family that are under that condemnation and it tears me to my soul. But God has decreed His justice and "drawn the line in the sand" If there is no clear way to be on the right side, God is not just, punishing those who don't understand. But God being infinitely just has made it clear who is saved and who is not.

    The entering in of that contract is Baptism into the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and being added by God to the Body of Christ and into the hope of eternal salvation. No other way is given to join yourself to Christ let alone so clearly stated.

    I will leave you with this quote and my prayers that your faith in an all powerful God able to accurately, effectively, and understandably communicate His Will and commands be restored.

    Blaise Pascal
    “Justice did not require that he should appear with such palpable marks of Divinity as would convince all men; and, on the other hand, it would have been unjust to come so disguised as not to be recognized by those who sincerely sought him. To these, accordingly, he renders himself easily discernible, and, in short, as it is his intention to be visible to those who seek him with all their hearts, and concealed from those who are equally disposed to shun him, he so regulates his communications with mankind,
    that the signs of them are plain to those who seek him, and obscure to those who do not seek him. There is light enough for those who are disposed to see, and darkness enough for those who are disinclined. . .

    In God's love

  44. K. Rex Butts says:

    " K. Rex Butts you say that you believe that the Scriptures are understandable but we can’t be sure we understand them."

    I have never said that we cannot understand the scriptures. I have only said that our understand is susceptible to error, misjudgment, and mistake because we are human…hence the need for a little epistemological humility.

    Is there anyone who wants to claim they have a perfect understanding of the scriptures? We are all literally dependent on the grace of God for our salvation and not whether we can get "The (so-called) Plan" understood right? Yet when it comes to other followers of Jesus whose understanding is different then ours, suddenly the grace of God is no longer sufficient for them? Hypocrscy!

    Grace and Peace,

    K. Rex Butts

  45. nick gill says:

    It confuses me this need to muddy the water so to say. Which do you think God would want us to have. A clear easy to follow path to Him, with a definite point of salvation so that we may be confident in it?

    There is a definite point for us to look at, remember, in which to place our confidence for salvation.

    It is the point when Jesus, the author of our salvation, finished it (Hebrews 12:2) – on Calvary.

  46. Bruce Morton says:

    Well, this webchain has now opened that long-standing discussion about understanding and faith. And Rex your conclusion is that professing Christ suffices, correct?

    I will make the brief observation that select papal encyclicals challenge Christ's Lordship, one by announcing that Mary is now "the dispenser of all heavenly graces." She is the mediator. That declaration clashes with what Paul writes to Timothy. [See, for example, the Mary encyclicals of Vincennzo Pecci (Leo XIII)].

    Eventually, we find ourselves in the middle of trying to decide if every honest heart is automatically shielded from false teaching. And if that is true, why Paul's warning to the Ephesian elders?

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  47. nick gill says:

    Eventually, we find ourselves in the middle of trying to decide if every honest heart is automatically shielded from false teaching. And if that is true, why Paul’s warning to the Ephesian elders?

    Well, this webchain has now opened that long-standing false dilemma: either "every honest heart is automatically shielded from false teaching" or every heart is condemned for believing any error.

  48. K. Rex Butts says:


    I believe faith involves trust and obedience. But I also believe one cannot obey what one does not believe to be biblical. Assuming we're both striving to be obedient to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we can only obey what we believe is taught in scripture. But what if on the day of Judgment we find out that some of what we have believed to be taught in scripture, including our understanding of baptism, was wrong? Essentially that is what we are saying is going to happen to those who profess Christ as we do but have a different understanding/practice of baptism. So hypothetically, lets reverse the roles. What if it turns out to be us who discover we are in the wrong? Do we still have any hope, why or why not?

    I contend we do still have hope and that is why I can also affirm present hope for those who profess Christ but share a different understanding, one in which I believe is not what is taught in scripture. I contend we (and they) still have hope because God is not a legalistic mechanism but a personal and relational being who understands the difference between apathetic rejection and a heart that continuously sought to live by faith even though that faith was far from perfect. Those who contend other wise seem to rest on 1) the belief that God in his grace and mercy will not excuse an honest but misunderstood faith and 2) that they have correctly understood the scriptures so they can be assured of salvation. That view, as I contend, makes our epistemological ability the object of faith.

    You may disagree with me Bruce (and that is fine) but I hope that provides a little more understanding to what I mean by faith. In short, if we say we believe (have faith) Jesus Christ then we must be committed to live (obedience) as Jesus calls us to…but I do not believe that you or I, nor anyone else will ever be perfect or have a perfect understanding of what that entails.

    Grace and peace,


    P.S. Thanks for the dialogue. This is my last comment on this post-thread.

  49. Bruce Morton says:

    Rex, Nick:
    Yes, I think we have gotten to the taproot. In the early twenty-first century, the question that we face is the same one that has faced believers/followers for almost two millenia. Just how serious is the threat of Satan influencing the corrupting of religious teaching? Can the consequences leave folks separated from Jesus?

    Nick, I am not convinced that the either-or you suggest accurately represents apostolic teaching. Otherwise, how can Peter write what he does when he says that some folks distort Scripture "to their own destruction?" (2 Peter 3:16) And how can Paul write what he does in Ephesians 5:5? (And he lets us know by his language that he is talking about more than ethical issues; he is also talking about issues of ritual and belief — the Asians did not separate the two as we try to do).

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  50. Bobby V to Greg Tidwell,

    Brother I am sorry but I just couldnt bring myself to actually order that copy of SS. it is true that the Gospel Advocate published that book called Adrift … never a more apt title for a book. It is certainly far "adrift" from the sound and healthy teaching of salvation. It majors in salvation by "precision obedience" rather than salvation by grace through faith. It dares to affirm we stand before God on the basis of what we do. Not only would K. C. Moser reject that outright so would James A Harding who had a long association with the GA … but more importantly Paul, Peter, John and Jesus reject it as well. To make matters even worse so does Moses himself! Phil would do well to hold Moser's position but he does not.

    Blessing Brother,
    Bobby Valentine

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