What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved? Chapter 12

We’re working our way through Leroy Garrett’s book: What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved? The paperback is $7.95, but it’s also available in Kindle edition for $0.99. For $0.99, it’s really an offer you can’t refuse!

Now, by “saved” Garrett doesn’t mean that he questions the salvation of the individual members of the Churches of Christ. Rather, he is concerned to save the Churches of Christ as a “viable witness to the Christian faith. What must it do to escape extinction in the decades ahead …?”

Chapter 12 is entitled “Abandon our claim to exclusive truth.”

Leroy writes,

There is a liberating truth that would go far in saving the Church of Christ from the obscurant course it has followed during the century of its existence: We can believe we are right without having to believe that everyone else is wrong. … If we are right, everyone else has to be wrong. Not so. If we are true and faithful Christians, then no one else is. That does not follow. Our raison d’etre depends upon our being the one and only true church. Wrong again. (pp. 140-141).

One of [the Restoration Movement's] mottoes was, “We are Christians only but not the only Christians.” It was never their claim that they were the only Christians, the only true church, and they were not exclusivists. Alexander Campbell left the Presbyterians and was “forced out” (as he saw it) by the Baptists, but he never broke fellowship with either and always considered them Christians. …

It is a little known fact that the first congregations of the Campbell movement, Brush Run and Wellsburg (both in Virginia near Bethany, Campbell’s home) were members of a Baptist association of churches, the first the Redstone association, the second the Mahoning association. A third congregation in Pittsburg, led by Thomas Campbell, sought membership in a Presbyterian presbytery and was turned down. … When he went to Nashville to oppose Jesse Ferguson, the Church of Christ minister who was conducting seances with the dead, he first spoke at the Methodist church where he was introduced by the bishop who offered support for the difficult task he had in their city. (pp. 141-142).

Now, let’s not misread what Garrett writes. Criticizing “If we are right, everyone else has to be wrong” is not a Postmodern claim or a claim of moral relativism. Rather, it’s an effort to push us back to biblical thinking and away from 21st Century (and 20th Century) thinking.

You see, we’ve defined “truth” as “whatever is in our tracts.” Thus, we teach the “truth” about instrumental music or the frequency of the Lord’s Supper or the name of the church. But these things are not “truth” as the Bible uses the word.

Truth, you see, is the good news of Jesus the Messiah –

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

(Eph 1:13-14 ESV) 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,  14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

The truth is what and who you are taught in order to have faith and receive the Spirit. And we teach the very same truth as the Baptists and Methodists and Presbyterians. Yes, of course there are some intellectuals in some of those fellowships who deny the truth, but the Presbyterian who attends the church that’s on Main Street in your hometown, he believes the truth. As do we.

Therefore, if we would just recognize what “truth” truly is, we can easily realize that we can disagree with the Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians about just all sorts of things and yet agree on truth.

(Amo 3:3 ESV)  3 “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?”

For me to walk with you, we don’t have to agree on the number of acts of worship. We do have to agree on where to begin and where we intend to get to. And we can enjoy debating Calvinism vs. Semi-Pelagianism as we walk together.

Along with being a unity movement, we exist in order to be a productive part of the Body of Christ, filled with the Spirit and bearing its fruit of love, joy, and peace. We exist in order to be an intelligent and responsible community of believers sensitive to the needs of a suffering world. We exist in order to become more and more like Christ by being a servant community. We exist in order to help redeem fallen humanity by being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. And always a pilgrim church, whose home is not in this world, that is living in time but for eternity.

All this is our raison d’etre and it is more meaningful when we see ourselves, not as a church that has exclusive truth, but as a people always in search of truth, especially as it is revealed in Jesus Christ. And always eager to accept other Christians as equals and join with them in the unending search for more and more truth. (pp. 151-152). (pp. 151-152).

 

 

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111 Responses to What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved? Chapter 12

  1. Alan says:

    Amen.

    It’s unfortunate that we all disagree on so many things. The range of conflicting teachings historically descended from the Christian church is shocking… from Catholic to mainline Protestant to Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, even Muslims… with a wide range of beliefs and teachings within each. I think most of us would agree that at least some of those groups are so far removed from the fundamental teachings that they can’t be called Christian. But when we start trying define which ones, we head down a slippery slope that leads to the rampant divisions we all hate.

  2. Bruce Morton says:

    Jay:
    Hmmmm? You quote Ephesians 1:13-14 without applying it. Paul is talking about more than (mental) belief.

    VOICES THAT CHALLENGE YOUR CONCLUSION

    In contrast to your essay (and Leroy Garrett’s conclusion), look at G.R. Beasley-Murray’s (a Baptist’s) “take” regarding being “sealed.” His careful study of baptism argued that Ephesians 1:13 and 1 Corinthians1:22 should be closely associated. As he writes, “The seal is given when a man is washed, sanctified, justified, in the Name of the Lord Jesus and in the Spirit of our God, even as he is baptized to the one Body in the one Spirit.” (Baptism in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1973), 174.)

    Marcus Barth, as another example, suggests that Ephesians 1:3-14 and being sealed with the Spirit represents the very heart of Paul’s letter — and that Paul is talking about baptism. He suggests that Ephesians may represent a baptismal manual of sorts. He writes, “Since Eph. 1:13-14 means by “sealing” an event following upon such hearing and believing, i.e. an event that assures men of their forthcoming inheritance and redemption as “God’s own people,” this text appears to speak of baptism.” (Ephesians 1-3, The Anchor Bible (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1974), 135.)

    T. W. Brents made the observation a century ago that “if we are now sealed with the Holy Spirit, as these Ephesians were, it takes place after, and is something more than hearing, believing, and receiving the Word.” (The Gospel Plan of Salvation (Nashville: McQuiddy Printing Co., 1874; reprint ed. Gospel Advocate Co., 1973), 642.) An excellent comment by a “Restorationist.”

    CONCLUSION

    I read: “The truth is what and who you are taught in order to have faith and receive the Spirit. And we teach the very same truth as the Baptists and Methodists and Presbyterians.”

    It sounds like you have dismissed much of the important discussion about believer baptism (as immersion) in this forum over the past year — and dismissed apostolic truth that baptism is the action of God’s grace where our sins are washed away (Titus 3:4-7). Remarkable.

    Note: a neighbor of mine is a teacher in one of the larger Baptist congregations in Houston. He has recently read a publication I authored and subsequently chatted with me about baptism and Titus 3:4-7. His “take?” He was clear. He indicated that Baptist congregations had missed this aspect of apostolic teaching about baptism and agreed that they needed to change course at this point. And he has begun to spread the publication I authored within the congregation. He now believes that baptism is an action of God’s grace where we participate in Jesus’ death and resurrection and our sins are washed away.

    How about you, Jay? How about “changing course” yourself and again grabbing hold of apostolic teaching about baptism into Christ as an action of God’s grace — as part of that “truth” you talk about?

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  3. abasnar says:

    The truth is what and who you are taught in order to have faith and receive the Spirit. And we teach the very same truth as the Baptists and Methodists and Presbyterians.

    The promise ofthe Spirit is tied to water baptism of repentant sinners. Since neither Methodists, nor Presbyterians – not even Baptists! – teach this, they may teach about Jesus all right – but they don’t teach the way of salvation correctly!

    Following you and Leroy on this we’d have to admit that the promise of salvation can be obtained without baptism – not as an exception to the rule, but as part of the rule. This is distorting the Gospel.

    You’ll get some quick Amens to this however, because the fewest think to the end what Leroy proposes. It sounds so smooth, so reconciling … but its a new “Downgrade Controversy”.

    Alexander

  4. laymond says:

    “All this is our raison d’etre and it is more meaningful when we see ourselves, not as a church that has exclusive truth, but as a people always in search of truth,”

    For a people who are convinced that they have obeyed the truth to the extent that they are positive they are “saved” to continue to search for “the truth” exhibits doubt , in my mind. Doubt that they have the truth.

  5. Bruce wrote:

    Note: a neighbor of mine is a teacher in one of the larger Baptist congregations in Houston. He has recently read a publication I authored and subsequently chatted with me about baptism and Titus 3:4-7. His “take?” He was clear. He indicated that Baptist congregations had missed this aspect of apostolic teaching about baptism and agreed that they needed to change course at this point. And he has begun to spread the publication I authored within the congregation. He now believes that baptism is an action of God’s grace where we participate in Jesus’ death and resurrection and our sins are washed away.

    Are there not many in the fellowship of the Churches of Christ who need a similar “Aha!” moment regarding the reception of the Holy Spirit? They have obeyed Jesus in the fact of submitting to baptism, and even believe that it is for the remission of sins. Yet, they do not accept that God actually gives His Holy Spirit to them as Peter promised in Acts 2:38.

    Are we to write them off of as true children of God as many write off “the denominations”? Or should we strive to teach them of the richness of God’s blessings in His command to die with Christ, be buried with Him, and then raised with Him into a new life?

    If you maintain that we should teach those who do not understand what God said about receiving the Holy Spirit – while regarding them as brothers and sisters in the Lord – then why should we not do the same for those baptized without fully understanding that it is “for the remission of sins”?

    Or is there a minimal level of understanding that one must have for baptism to be genuine? If so, what is that minimal level (other than a confession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God), and how do you determine what it is?

  6. Johnny says:

    When I started going to the Church of Christ I attend, I sat down with the preacher and discussed going there. He asked me two questions, “Who Do you believe Jesus is?” And “have you been baptized”
    I told him I believed that Jesus was the Son of God who died for my sins and rose again” and I told him I had been immersed in a Baptist church at 12. He looked at me and “then who am I to not call you a Christian,” Now we do not agree on everything, but he does not expect complete agreement.

    “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” You may not call me brother, but I have no trouble calling you brother based on those two questions.

  7. laymond says:

    Yet, they do not accept that God actually gives His Holy Spirit to them as Peter promised in Acts 2:38.

    Jerry, I believe it says, “and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” “GIFT”
    and what is the gift of God–

    Jhn 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    Jhn 4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

    Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:

    Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    ( the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. )

  8. Laymond,

    You left out a passage that describes the gift of God. Without questioning the ones you cite, I would also ask you to consider Acts 5:32 – “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” Since this is Peter’s comment, I believe it is pertinent to a full understanding of Acts 2:38.

    Jerry

  9. Royce Ogle says:

    I continue to be amazed that in our fellowship members who exhibit none of the Christian graces, and even those who deny the truth claims of Jesus Christ, are considered to be Christians only because they have been “scrilpturaly baptized” in water. So we find ourselves at this point in our brief history as a church with water baptism as the pinnacle of truth, the watershed from which everything else flows down.

    How some of our people can deny they believe the teaching of baptismal regeneration with a straight face is nothing short of amazing. It seems that the mainstream teaching is that the only assurance of salvation one can depend on is if or not he has been properly baptized in water. This is a very odd position to be in when considered in the light of historic Christianity and the clear words of Scripture.

    Any teaching that usurps the truth about the worth and work of Jesus Christ for ungodly sinners is a damnable teaching. Water baptism is pure, holy, and a beautiful symbol of the gospel. False teaching about it is what is deplorable.

  10. hank says:

    Jerry,

    The Acts 5:32 passage has to do with the HS being given to the 1st century miracle workers (through whom the HS “witnessed” via the miracles the miracle workers performed”.

    Much like the passage at the end of Mark wherein Jesus said “these signs shallow follow them that believe…”

    It does not neccessitate us believing that “these signs” would follow EVERYONE who believes EVER. In the same way, Acts 5:32 does not promise (or indicate) that the HS would be given to EVERYONE who obeys EVER as a witness. Remember, the way the HS “witnessed” was via the miraculous powers he gave to men.

    As for the chapter and Jays Comments…

    The law of excluded middle ought to come into play. If any thing is true (the meaning and purpose of baptism, for example), then every other opposing view must be not true. IOW, if it IS for remission of sins, then that is the truth and every opposing view is false. IF IT REALLY IS for remission, then to say it is for anything else is false. I mean, it sounds all nice and loving to say all of the views can be true all at the same time but….that idea is false. Truth is exclusive.

  11. laymond says:

    Jerry, you will get no argument from me that the apostles were endowed with the “holy ghost” godly powers. Peter was talking to the council and high priest, about the apostles who were with Jesus therefore a good and true witness.

    Act 5:29 Then Peter and the [other] apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
    Act 5:30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.
    Act 5:31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand [to be] a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
    Act 5:32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and [so is] also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

    Jerry said since Peter had been the speaker of both Acts 2:38 and Acts 5:32 surely he would speak consistently. Let’s look at something Peter said about exactly the same being.

    Act 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back [part] of the price of the land?

    Act 5:9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? —————.

    He referred to the Lord as both the Holy Ghost, and the Spirit of the Lord, but not a GIFT.

  12. Bruce Morton says:

    Royce:
    I appreciate your critique of a mindset that thinks, “If I get baptized, I can do what I wish….” (my paraphrase). Certainly, you are on target there.

    However, I also saw that you wrote: “So we find ourselves at this point in our brief history as a church with water baptism as the pinnacle of truth, the watershed from which everything else flows down.”

    If that is intended as a hyperbolic response to my post and other similar ones, you miss what I am writing — and you miss the importance of baptism. The reason baptism is so important — then and now — is that it is where we participate in Jesus’ death and resurrection. We become God’s possession in the action! Why the phrase “pinnacle of truth?” You sound like Jay does when he “downplays” the action — God’s action. Remarkable.

    See, for example, Jack P. Lewis excellent article on just how important the action of baptism was considered in the second century (not to mention apostolic teaching): Jack P. Lewis, “Baptismal Practices of the Second and Third Century Church,” Restoration Quarterly 26 (First Quarter 1983): 1-2: “That baptism conveys the remission of sins can be traced through a series of writers beginning with Barnabas, who, in a passage in which typology is abundant, complains that Israel will not receive “baptism that brings remission of sins.”

    Additionally, I will highlight another very important article:
    S. R. Llewelyn, “Baptism and Salvation,” New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity: A Review of the Greek Inscriptions and Papyri Published 1984-85, 8:176-79. ed. S. R. Llewelyn (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1998). Llewelyn notes that “Baptism was preeminently the rite which absolved the individual from his sins.” (177)

    It is NOT what churches of Christ (and Independent Christian churches) have been preaching and teaching that is at fault; the burden is on those who have not been teaching such. Jay is way off the mark in his essay, as is Leroy Garrett.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  13. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Bruce,

    Have you read Beasley-Murray’s book on baptism? He concludes that baptism by immersion by a believer, while the biblical model, is not essential to salvation. He has a chapter on the subject.

  14. David Newhouse says:

    If we should separate ourselves from other Christians over whether or not baptism is for remission of sins, then it is just as important to seperate ourselves from other Christians over how baptism is for remission of sins. I strongly object to the teaching of some of my own who suggest that consenting to baptism is passing a test of obedience that qualifies one for remission of sins. I would question if that is any better than denying that baptism is for remmission of sins.

  15. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Hank,

    Proving that something is true (if that were the case) hardly proves that it constitutes “truth” as “truth” is used on the Bible. The law of gravity is g = Gm1m2/rxr. That’s true. It’s not “truth” as the NT uses “truth.”

    One of the classic mistakes of 20th Century Church of Christ rhetoric is to confuse all that is perhaps true with “truth” as the NT authors use the term. And that just means that our preachers haven’t read the scriptures very carefully. I covered the NT use of “truth” in great detail in this series: http://oneinjesus.info/index-under-construction/theology-church-of-christ-issues/truth-what-is/

    Rather than relying on the meaning of “true” in logic, I suggest we rely on how the word is used by the authors of the NT. “Truth” is normally used as a term of art, referring to the truth of about Jesus, the gospel of the Kingdom of God. I can find no use of “truth” to refer to baptism.

    What does that prove? Well, that you and I can agree on “truth” and yet disagree on baptism. If we disagree, then surely one of us is wrong. Maybe both of us. But we still agree on the truth.

  16. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    David,

    You make an excellent point that is new to my experience. Yes, we sometimes make baptism into a work in violation of the teachings of Galatians. Indeed, it’s a standard bit of 20th Century CoC rhetoric to insist that we are saved by works, especially the work of baptism. And that is the Galatian heresy — and the poisonous nature of the teaching is clear from its fruit. As soon as we insist on baptism as a “work,” then we make Romans and Galatians nonsensical. We then add many other essential works — so much so that the Pharisees would blush to be compared to us.

  17. Bruce Morton says:

    Jay:
    I am well aware that after all of G.R. Beasley-Murray’s research and earlier writing in his study, he does not land on what the apostles taught. Yes, remarkable. But that does not negate his conclusions regarding Ephesians 1:13-14. In that place in his book, he is on target.

    But let’s get back to your essay. So, you still find yourself unable to land on the meaning and message of Titus 3:4-7?

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  18. Hank & Laymond,

    I do not believe you are reading the text of Acts 5:32. You make some serious assumptions – that are not in that text. The text says that God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. You assume that this is only the miracle workers.

    Staying with the context of Acts 2:38 (where this conversation began), note how the author refers time after time to “the promise”

    Acts 1:4 – Wait for the gift my Father promised….

    Acts 2:16-17 – … but this is that which hath been spoken through the prophet Joel: And it shall be in the last days, saith God, I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all flesh: And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams

    Acts 2:33 – Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear.

    Acts 2:38-39 – And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him.

    Acts 5:32 – And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

    The gift is the promised Holy Spirit whom God gives to all who repent and are baptized (2:38), those whom He calls (2:39), or those who obey Him (5:32).

    Romans 8:8-9 has a bearing on this as well:

    and they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. But if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

    Consider even more passages from the pen of Paul:

    Eph 4:30 And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption.

    Eph 1:13-14 in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, – in whom, having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of God’s own possession, unto the praise of his glory.

    Galatians 4:6 And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

    More references can be added. These passages do not speak of miracles or any charismatic gift; they do speak of the Holy Spirit of God as a common gift to all who belong to Christ.

    It is as difficult for me to understand how people can read these passages and deny that God gives His Spirit to His people as it is to understand how people can read Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; and 1 Peter 3:21 and deny that baptism has anything to do with our salvation. It takes as much “help” to deny one of these truths as it does to deny the other.

  19. Hank and Laymond,

    You have demonstrated the truth of what I wrote this morning in this thread at 8:34 a.m. There are some in our fellowship who do not believe God gives “the gift of the Holy Spirit” to those who obey Him.

  20. Bruce Morton says:

    Jay:
    I read this: “Indeed, it’s a standard bit of 20th Century CoC rhetoric to insist that we are saved by works, especially the work of baptism.”

    Jay, please STOP!!

    This forum has had many, many posts in the last year that discussed in-depth the apostolic teaching that baptism is an action of God’s grace. YOU KNOW THAT. How about representing those discussions well. The above comment to Hank dishonors many of your brothers and sisters who have written many times in the past year on your webforum regarding Titus 3:4-7 and all that it means.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  21. Royce Ogle says:

    Bruce,

    You said in an earlier reply: “The reason baptism is so important — then and now — is that it is where we participate in Jesus’ death and resurrection.”

    That is exactly what the mainline coc teaches but where is it in the Bible? It isn’t.

    The death symbolized in water is first Jesus’s death and secondly the believer’s death because Jesus represented us in death.When he died we died with him.

    From first to last, every person ever saved will be saved on the basis of the worth and work of Jesus both in living, dying, and living again. Before the father of the faithful, Abram took a step, raised a knife to his son, or conceived a child by promise, he “believed God and was counted righteous. There is no other plan than that.

    Jesus has done all the doing necessary to reconcile sinners to God. There is no additional deal to be struck, no rite or ritual to appease God. He only makes ungodly sinners righteous because the sacrificial and substitutionary work of Jesus.

    Read 1st John, a book of assurance for believers, and you will find that Jesus himself is our assurance and that he is eternal life and there is none other than in him. There is only one “truth of the gospel” and everything else is “another gospel”.

  22. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Bruce,

    No, it doesn’t. Church of Christ literature is filled with references to baptism as a work and works salvation. You may not believe that, but a very large percentage of the Churches do. I know because I periodically search the internet to see if our church websites continue to spew that obscene error, and many still do.

    Are we getting better? Yes. Is grace gaining ground in our thinking? Yes. Does legalism still prevail in many areas? Yes.

  23. Bruce Morton says:

    Royce:
    I saw that you wrote: “You said in an earlier reply: “The reason baptism is so important — then and now — is that it is where we participate in Jesus’ death and resurrection.” That is exactly what the mainline coc teaches but where is it in the Bible? It isn’t.”

    Surprising post, brother. The answer to your question is Romans 6:4-6.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  24. Bruce Morton says:

    Jay:
    Yes, I am aware of what some churches of Christ have taught and continue to teach. And you (and I) are justified in challenging such (And I think you know that I have and I will continue to do so — just as I challenge what Baptists and Presbyterians have taught.).

    However, what I find remarkable is that you seem to use a broad brush at times and avoid talking about the truth of baptism as an action of God’s grace because of… all those churches of Christ that have it wrong! And that is supposed to justify what you write that avoids the teaching in Titus 3:4-7? Hmmmm. No, I do not buy that.

    So, let’s focus on Titus 3:4-7 together, brother. Do you believe what Paul teaches in Titus 3:4-7 — that baptism is an action of God’s grace where our sins are washed away or no?

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  25. Royce Ogle says:

    Bruce,

    When we eat the bread and drink the cup, those elements are not the reality, they symbolize the reality. The grape juice is not really Christ’s blood, it represents it. And, the bread is not literally his body but a symbol of it. We don’t receive Christ as our Catholic friends teach by eating and drinking but by faith.

    In the like manner baptism is a figure, a representation of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The reenactment of his work for sinners reflects in a beautiful way the effect of faith in Jesus, the regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit of all who put their faith in Jesus.

    God does not put away sins on the basis of the act of baptism. He only takes sins away upon the basis of the bloody death of his son the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is Jesus + nothing.

    Of course you are not going to change your mind about this and that’s OK. And I will continue to trust Christ alone and not the fact that I was immersed in the North Fork river in Western North Carolina more than 55 years ago to identify myself with Christ and his people and to express in public my intention to live a new life.

    I fear that the Galatian heresy is alive and well all these years later. I ask you and every reader the same question Paul asked. “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

  26. abasnar says:

    But, Royce, in a symbol the reality has a spiritual presence! That’s why we cannot spit on a picture of a person, nor burn the flag of a country, because – even on this human level – we accept a spiritual presence of the “thing/person” symbolized. It’s not just cloth and paper to us …

    This makes the Lord’s Supper a spiritual food and spiritual drink. We participate in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross just as the Israelites participated in the altar. We eat Christ’s flesh and drink his blood in a spiritual sense – and it is a blessing therefore, it nourishes us inwardly, it sustains us on our journey through the wilderness just as the Manna did for Israel.

    Therfore also baptism “works” what it signifies. It signifies remission of sins by a washing, but in this outward washing we are being cleansed spiritually. There is a reality at work, God is at work in this simple act of immersion. And since God repeatedly ties His promises to outward acts, the Early Christian understanding of Baptism (which is essentially the same the the CoCs one) is abolutely consistent with all of God’s ways and promises.

    For those who do not know the letter of Barnabas (written someweher between 70 and 100 AD). This letter was regarded as part of the NT for at least two centuries in many regions – and was highly respected everwhere otherwise. It has the earliest reference on baptism outside the NT:

    (Barnabas, in ch XI) We indeed descend into the water full of sins and defilement, but come up, bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear [of God] and trust in Jesus in our spirit.

    I hate to say it, because this seems so proud and self-exalting, but I try to limit it strictly to baptism: the churches of Christ are about the only ones among all Christians who hold to the original understanding of baptism. And we may claim this, because it is a fact, that can be proven historically.

    This does not mean – let me emphasize this – the we got everything right. We lack practice and understanding of laying on of hands for instance, we have a shaky understanding of the indwelling of the spirit, and our Zwinglian understanding of the Lord’s Supper is as a-historic (and insufficient) as the Baptist’s understanding of baptism.

    We may and shall be criticized for that. And we shall work harder on these issues.

    But – again I hate to say it – since baptism is the way a man becomes a Christian, baptism is a teaching of highest priority, next to Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection.

    Therfore we cannot accept the teachings of Methodists, Presybyterians and others as “equal” to our understanding of baptism. And that’s where Leroy, Jay and others miss the point completely.

    Alexander

  27. hank says:

    Jerry wrote:

    “Hank and Laymond,
    You have demonstrated the truth of what I wrote this morning in this thread at 8:34 a.m. There are some in our fellowship who do not believe God gives “the gift of the Holy Spirit” to those who obey Him.”

    But, not that I have ever heard of. I do not know of anyone who does not believe that God gives “the gift of the Holy Spirit” to those who obey him. I believe that we ALL believe that (some just disagree in terms of what said “gift” actually is/means).

    Jerry, do you believe that the signs spoken of and promised at the end of Mark follow EVERYONE who believes, even today? If not, does that mean you don’t believe Jesus was right when he proclaimed that said sign WILL follow “them that believe”?

  28. hank says:

    Jay writes:

    “Rather than relying on the meaning of “true” in logic, I suggest we rely on how the word is used by the authors of the NT. “Truth” is normally used as a term of art, referring to the truth of about Jesus, the gospel of the Kingdom of God. I can find no use of “truth” to refer to baptism.”

    So then (and if I understand you correctly), churches (and Christians) can believe, teach and practice an unlimited multitude of untruths (things that are false), and yet still be considered commited to “THE” truth?

    Do you believe that a church can be overseen by female elders, embrace homosexuallity, teach salvation via the sinners prayer, pray to Mary, and yet still be one that is faithful to “the truth”?

    Jay, you argue – “I can find no use of “truth” to refer to baptism.”

    So, you believe then that a church can teach whatever it is they feel like regarding baptism and still be considered by all as teachers of “truth”?

    Remember, we can find no use of “truth” to refer to homosexuallity either? Neither can we find any use of “truth” to refer to stealing.

    But, does that really mean that we must consider churches who have Lesbian pastors preaching that its okay to steal so long as you have said the sinners prayer, just as faithful to “truth” as any other church? Assuming they get the “truth about Jesus” that you believe “truth” is limited to?

    Because IF a church can teach that which is false about baptism and still be considered “teachers of truth”, why then can they not be the same all the while teaching what is also false about homosexuality (and any number of other lies……….errr…….untruths)?

  29. laymond says:

    Jay, Unless I have over looked some action, that Jesus did, this is the very first (recorded) step Jesus took on the way to his ministry.

    Mat 3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
    Mat 3:14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
    Mat 3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer [it to be so] now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

    NIV
    Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

    NLT
    But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.*” So John agreed to baptize him.

    Mat 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

    Jay, did Jesus say “follow me“, except for being baptized, or did he say you must be baptized,?
    It is in the book in black and white, whether you believe it is the truth or not, is up to you.

  30. laymond says:

    Jay, that is the great problem with liberalism in religion, when once started down that slippery slope, it is easier to just turn loose and slide, than to claw your way back up.
    If one does not stop to think, and dig their heels in, the ride becomes faster and more exilerating , and getting into reverse is impossiable.

  31. Charles McLean says:

    As long as the CoC continues to make regenerative baptism by immersion their “hill to die on”, that hill will continue to shrink, while the message of the gospel goes forth on the shoulders of others. I participate in a number of discussion groups where CoC members and non-CoC members interact. Invariably, the more traditional CoC folks want to talk about baptism. No matter where the conversation would go otherwise, baptism is not just a major topic offered by the CoC contributors, but the overwhelmingly predominant one. If they cannot get concurrence by all on every specific of water baptism, they lose interest in everything else. Baptism appears to have evolved from being important to being all-important. So much so that they allow it to define for them who is and is not in Christ.

    To many of us, it appears that the real “Baptist” church is in fact the CoC.

  32. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Bruce,

    Please refrain from the old 20th Century Church of Christ debating style where you assume that your interpretation of a passage is correct and that those who disagree with you necessarily disagree with the scriptures. You’ve around this blog long enough to know that while we may disagree about what a passage means, we don’t disagree with “what Paul teaches.” It’s unhelpful to recast a dispute over the meaning of Paul’s words into a debate over whether we agree with Paul. I ban comments that reject the authority of the scriptures.

    My view of Titus 3:4-7 is stated in http://oneinjesus.info/2011/02/baptism-an-exploration-titus-3-the-washing-of-regeneration/ from February 2011. Of course, that is part of a longer series in which the meaning of the baptism verses are considered in some detail. And, yes, of course, I “believe what Paul teaches.” Why would you even ask?

    Now, as we’ve covered many times, there are more ways to think about baptism than the traditional Southern Baptist view and the traditional Church of Christ view. My views do not fit into either slot, and I would encourage all the readers to avoid the false choice between either Baptist or Church of Christ theology.

    My view of inspiration is so high that I accept all that the Bible says about baptism, not just those statements that suit my tradition. Thus, I accept at face value –

    (Joh 3:18 ESV) 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

    I don’t have to graft Acts 2:38 onto such passages. They mean what they say. But the baptism passages are also entirely true.

    The solution, I think, is to recognize that the ultimate test of salvation is faith in Jesus. Baptism is the normative moment when salvation and the Spirit are received. Baptism thus offers the believer not only assurance that he has been saved but that faith is sufficient for salvation, as faith is sufficient for baptism.

    But baptism error — baptizing without enough water, the believer thinking he is already saved, the believer being too young, the believer believing baptism is a “work,” the believer denying the indwelling of the Spirit — does not void faith in Jesus. All with faith in Jesus are saved. After all, baptism is administered by the church and any error in baptism is the fault of the person doing the teaching. Faith is sufficient to save but baptism is normally the moment when salvation occurs. We can mess the baptism up, but we can’t void God’s many promises to save all with faith in Jesus.

    And — of course — “faith” means the faith referred to in John 3:18 and throughout Romans and Galatians, a faith that includes penitence, that is, a heart that submits to God.

    So I accept all the baptism passages and all the “faith only” passages. They say what they mean and mean what they say.

  33. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Hank,

    “Truth” is a term of art in the NT and we should “call Bible things by Bible names.” We aren’t free to re-define “truth” in the NT context to suit today’s controversies.

    Now, I’ve defined “truth” to refer to the gospel, the truth that is revealed in Jesus and that is Jesus. I think that’s the definition used in the NT. I’m entirely comfortable with that definition.

    So, tell me, do any of the examples you give contradict the gospel? Or are you contending that the gospel must include your view of baptism to include anything at all? The fact that the boundaries of “truth” are narrower than you wish hardly means that “truth” has no boundaries.

    Carefully consider the meaning of “gospel” as used in the OT and NT. Reason from there. The answers should then be plain. You see, when Paul answers questions put to him in 1 Corinthians, he repeatedly refers to the gospel to find his answers. Sometimes he refers to baptism. Sometimes to communion. Sometimes to Eden. This is how he thinks.

    Why baptism? Why communion? Not because they are the gospel but because they demonstrate the gospel. Why Eden? Because the gospel points us to the new heavens and new earth where Eden will be renewed. Indeed, the gospel can only be understood truly if we understand it as the story of God’s redemptive work throughout history. Paul tells the gospel in 1 Cor 15 as story, not a set of moral precepts.

    But the story has moral consequences! If we understand the good news and why it’s good and why it’s news, then we see the moral implications well enough. But we get there, not by defining “truth” or “gospel” to mean whatever is convenient to today’s debate. We get there by deeply understanding God’s purposes as revealed in the good news.

  34. abasnar says:

    There are no “faith only” passages, Jay – this is a common misunderstanding. There are a number of passages where only faith is mentioned, but no such passage stands alone. All have to be understoofd in the light of all scriptures say about salvation. Therefore it is not about “grafting acts 2:38 onto such passages”, but about realizing that Acts 2:38 is part of the story that can be left out.

    Alexander

  35. abasnar says:

    sorry: that can’t be left out

  36. hank says:

    Jay, don’t you think that you’re being rather inconsistent by accepting Jn. 3:18 at “face value” (and not needing to “graft in” the neccesity of baptism and yet you do leave room and see the need for grafting in the need for repentance? I mean if accepting the verse at “face value” requires not assuming baptism is implied, why do you assume that repentance is? It seems as though you are doing the very thing you are condemning.

    In just the couple of short years I’ve been following your blog your views on baptism have changed. And rather than saying what your used to believe to be the truth, you now seem very “wishy washy”. And rather than admitting that if a view on baptism is not true than it is false…you now buy into the idea that “truth” (as used in the Bible) does not even apply to what we believe and teach about baptism.

    At this risk of getting censured I must say that I wish influential persons such as yourself would soon cease from “progessing” because the way you have changed in your understanding of the most basic of doctrines (like that baptism is essential to salvation) is discouraging.

  37. hank says:

    Alexander,

    Actually their is one “faith only” passage:

    “James 2:24 – Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and NOT BY faith only.”

    I’ve never understood how so many people will say, “see? Such and such verse talks about being saved and yet doesn’t mention baptism. So, we don’t HAVE to be baptized!”

    And at the same time, believe that the need to confess with the mouth AS WELL AS the need to repent are implied and assumed. And when one points out the inconsistency, they’re just like, “what? What??”

  38. hank says:

    Jay, you wrote:

    “The solution, I think, is to recognize that the ultimate test of salvation is faith in Jesus.”

    And I know you believe that a peron (or church) can have a saving faith in Jesus regardless of what they believe and teach about baptism (along with countless other doctrines unrelated to “truth” as used in the Bible). But, I wonder how far you are willing to go?

    For discussion’s sake, do you believe that a practicing homosexual pastor who ordains women to to his church’s eldership can at the same time have a “saving faith in Jesus”? Since “truth” as used in the Bible does not pertain to neither homosexuality or female pastors? I guess you no longer believe that “speaking the TRUTH in love” has anything to do with baptism or any sins? SMH

    But yeah, once you limit “truth” to the person of Jesus (and separate it from EVERY other doctrine of the Bible), you can pretty much accept and embrace them all. And if Leroy’s book is helping you and others to do that, well, do what you gotta do, I guess.

  39. abasnar says:

    I like Jas 2:24 in this context – it’s as plain as anyone could wish for, Hank.

    What puzzles me is that Jay follows the same reasoning I know from my own Evangelical past: Proof-texting from “salvation-verses” that don’t mention baptism. That’s a completely wrong method. I see the same inconsistencies as you mention, Hank.

    I do see however that Jay still says: “Baptism is the normative moment when salvation and the Spirit are received.” This means God can save otherwise as well according to His mercy – But WE cannot make these exceptions to the norm. That’s entirely up to God while we have to teach faithfully what has been entrusted to us – without adding nor taking away.

    I do also see the desire for unity I do share. I even can recognize spirit-led people in every denomination – but this does not mean that I can say they are saved when they don’t meet the scriptural conditions. And I certainly cannot say we are in full fellwoship as long as they still hold to denominationalism and are not baptized.

    I do believe that we have to receive one another as Chroist has received us, but this means receive one anotzher in the body of Christ, not tolerating or embracing each others denomination. The latter is ecumenism, and as i see it ecumenism is Leroy’s (and Jay’)( vision fort he churches of Christ: Let’s just become one of these denominations, so we can be one in our schisms.

    But since schisms are a work of the flesh the way back into denominationalism is not the way churches of Christ will be saved, but rather the way they will be damned.

    Alexander

  40. abasnar says:

    Carefully consider the meaning of “gospel” as used in the OT and NT.

    Gospel is a NT term only. And as such it is tied to the revelation and proclamation of God’s Kingdom in Christ. That’s far more than “a story”! And this is how it starts:

    Mat 3:1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,
    Mat 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
    Mat 3:3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”
    Mat 3:4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.
    Mat 3:5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him,
    Mat 3:6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

    So even this is the baptism of John, baptism continues throughout the NT as an inseperable element of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

    Take baptism away from the Gospel, and you lose
    a) forgiveness of sin Acts 2:38
    b) regeneration Tit 3:5
    c) the Holy Spirit Acts 19:5-6
    — THE KINGDOM —

    Alexander

  41. JMF says:

    Hank –

    Can you offer your working definition of faith? From what I’ve read of your previous few posts here, it seems you’d define faith as: 1) intellectual assent; 2) repentance; 3) baptism; 4) not being homosexual.

    I’m interested to see you define the word.

    I’d like to know where the slippery slope ends going the other direction, meaning, is my view on the scriptural-ness of kitchens in the building a part of faith? Is agreement over MDR a part of faith?

  42. Bruce Morton says:

    Jay:
    Whoa, brother! I think the pot has called the kettle black! I can think of more than a few posts where you have exercised exactly what you are critiquing. For example one subject comes to mind that you are so comfortable about that you launch your own “what Paul taught” essays versus “allowing ground for discussion” approach. And that subject? LEGALISM. And you are on target on that subject and from what I can tell from visiting this webforum, you feel fully justified to pressure anyone on this forum who takes issue. And I AGREE with you regarding what legalism is and what is the threat. You are on SOLID GROUND there.

    BUT… let someone press you on the subject of immersion baptism in the same way you press regarding legalism? Whoa, look out! You become a man blind to what you yourself do when you are sure of what you teach. And you get… feisty, combative and can even raise the I-am-going-to-block-you stick and threaten to whack away.

    Now, for your response. Yes, I know what you have written regarding Titus 3:4-7… and that is why I am pressing this. Your essay here and at your link about Titus 3:4-7 reveal two different messages. And I am sure you see it (You suggested such several months ago and I “let up” my press at that point to allow you thinking time.).

    So, what is baptism, Jay? From what I can tell, you really are not willing to say, despite much apostolic teaching about such and despite your “It seems to me” essay on Titus 3:4-7. You are CERTAIN as a result of your review of legalism that it is not a “human work.” BUT… An action of God? That is the question you have yet to answer with the certainty of your belief and teaching about legalism. Your essay above announces such with clarity. And this is part of THE alternative to legalism you urge?

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  43. Brent says:

    Sometimes when Christians disagree, it is okay. And sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes the matter is not at the core of the Gospel. Sometimes it is.

    I know that Jay, Alexander, and History Guy could do a better job with what I am going to attempt to reference, so feel free to fill in the gaps.,..I won’t take it personally.

    When we talk about creeds, we usually distance ourselves from them claiming that we only follow the Bible and don’t need any creeds……(that raises an issue for a differenct discussion). I mention the creeds to take us back in time. What most don’t realize is that those creeds were driven by controversy and a perceived need to safeguard the Gospel.

    What about those christians who claimed that Jesus did not actually raise from the dead in bodily form? Were they embraced and allowed to teach their beliefs to the children of other believers?

    What about those christians who claimed that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children and was really just one of us? Were they embraced and encouraged to continue to share their beliefs since we are all on a journey for truth?

    These are just “some” examples of the false teaching that popped its head up now and then. Yes, the church leaders could have all decided to just get along and love each other even though there was disagreement. Should they have done that? Should they have said “We are all in this together, let’s just love each other and agree to disagree?”

    And so we find the creeds that address Truth. Jesus did rise from death! Jesus did ascend into heaven! Jesus is God! Those battles were fought long and hard……..and won for a time……only to pop up again in the future.

    I say all of this to say that some things are worth fighting for . . . and some things are not. Some things are worth separating fellowship over . . . and some things are not.

    Issues surrounding salvation determining factors are worth figthting for. But everything is not a salvation determining issue.

    Will someone find the manual that gives the answers and dust it off please.

    Love. That is what we have been called to do. Love. Love God. Love all the other two legged hairy creatures that walk on their two feet. And Jesus wants us to be known for that love. Our love for God and our love for those other two legged hairy…….yes women are hairy too, at least in some neighborhoods.

    Should we seek that which is true? Well of course we should. We certainly wouldn’t seek that which is false. What would be the point? Where does that which is false take us? That which is false doesn’t support faith. That which is true can support faith.

    But is that what we seek to be known for? Do we want others to look at us and say, “Those people are wonderful…they really know how to seek what is true.” Do we want Jesus to look at us and say, “I’m so proud of these disciples who have got all the facts down right.” It is so spiritually satisfying to know all the true facts.

  44. Bruce Morton says:

    Jay:
    I decided to note something separately and let you (and everyone else) think about how it sounds:

    “The solution, I think, is to recognize that the ultimate test of salvation is faith in Jesus. Baptism is the normative moment when salvation and the Spirit are received.”

    Hmmm? Where is grace, Jay, in this?

    I prefer to believe Titus 3:4-7 — that baptism is the action of God’s grace where our sins are washed away. As you yourself have argued, we have NO HOPE without the grace of God. Your “ultimate test of salvation is faith in Jesus” suggestion is as blind to the need for the grace of God (in immersion baptism… and everywhere else) as is legalism.

    Oops, the fur will fly now….

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  45. laymond says:

    (Joh 3:18 ESV) 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

    Jay seems to think this lets us off the hook, or keeps us on the hook. but Jesus said differently.

    Luk 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

    Jay, if you truly believe Jesus is the “Son” and trust in him for salvation, you will do as he said. It’s a two way street.

  46. David Newhouse says:

    The simplest way to view baptism is that it is the remitting of ones sins in the name of Jesus Christ by a follower of Jesus Christ. I think Jay said something very close to this in his series on baptism. And yes, Jesus gave us/the apostles the authority to remit sins by baptism. So what does it take for one to have his sins remitted? Faith only. Of course the one baptizing will want to know whether or not the one he is baptizing has faith, so he demands a confession. If one will not confess faith in Christ, then no serious follower of Christ will pronouce his sins remitted. So, looking at it that way savation is by faith only. But it pains me that most Evangelicals who baptize don’t know what the heck they are doing out in the water.

  47. Royce Ogle says:

    Alexander,

    Jesus said the purpose of the bread and wine is to remember him until he comes. And, in a very beautiful way so baptism remembers him as well.

    I could have overlooked it but I don’t recall the Lord’s Supper being called “spiritual food” in the Bible. Both water baptism and the Lord’s Supper are physical things to remind us of the “truth” of the gospel. In the sense we are nourished, or fed by the word of God and the fellowship of our spiritual siblings I agree.

    Neither physical act imparts grace. God is not waiting for sinner “X” to be immersed to decide if or not he should have mercy on him. The finished work of Jesus alone accomplished all that was needed for that to happen with God still maintaining his holiness and justice.

    What troubles me (not particularly about you) is that in these posts and replies there is so little said about Jesus and what he accomplished. Shouldn’t he be the main topic of Christians conversations about the Bible and spiritual things?

    Blessings to you and yours as you follow the Lord.

    Royce

  48. Royce Ogle says:

    Titus 3:4-7
    4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (ESV)

    Where is baptism in this passage Bruce? Every reference to washing, or pouring, or cleansing in the Bible is not a reference to water baptism. Regeneration is a creative act of God as is the renewal of the Holy Spirit.

  49. Charles McLean says:

    alexander wrote: “There are no “faith only” passages, Jay – this is a common misunderstanding. There are a number of passages where only faith is mentioned, but no such passage stands alone. All have to be understoofd in the light of all scriptures say about salvation.”

    Agree… and disagree. I agree that there are not “faith only” passages simply because “faith only” is an oxymoron. Faith generates obedience as lightning generates thunder. So, I agree with the fact, but not with the reasoning.

    But as to having to understand each statement of scripture in light of the others, I would have to disagree. Jesus spoke these words in John 5:24, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

    Now, to Jesus’ hearers at that moment in space and time, either this statement was to be depended upon, or it was not to be believed. Jesus did NOT tell them, “Now, you’ll have to wait until the new book comes out to really understand this. There’s more to having eternal life that you’ll have to find out later.” Either Jesus’ statement was true on its face, or it was not. If Jesus’ hearers could NOT have eternal life without additional information which Jesus did not supply here, then his failure to disclose such an omission would amount to a deception.

    We get stuck in our own box at times, I think. We unthinkingly presume that things are now as they have always been. In this case, we presume that the revelation of Jesus Christ is found in a bound volume which can be readily dissected and cross-referenced for a complete understanding of truths which would not be understood otherwise, and that we can figure out how to get eternal life by such a process. Some of us have come to the conclusion that if such a process was not essential to faith in Jesus at one time, neither is it the only way to have faith Jesus today.

  50. JMF says:

    Royce –

    I was reading a website from a conservative COC group, and they had some criteria listed from spotting a “change agent.”

    One of the key points listed was “Exalting Christ but downplaying the church.” It is subtle, but in my COC experience, Jesus definitely plays second fiddle to “Church”. Some may disagree with that, but as one that has been indoctrinated since birth, the nuances I see tend to be accurate (since many of them came through osmosis).

  51. Royce Ogle says:

    Charles,

    I think what Hank meant is that the English phrase “faith only” is only mentioned in the passage he cited. Of course the original documents of Scripture were not written in English, even King James English so such arguments are foolish.

    And, I agree completely with your earlier reply at 10:50 a.m.

  52. Royce Ogle says:

    JMF,

    Jesus was the first “change agent” and Peter, Paul, and others followed in his footsteps. So, I wear the name proudly. I major on Jesus and for that have been called a Satanist, evil, condemned, damned, and more…, and this by those who claim to be “brothers”.

    Legalists do not like the flesh, human effort, killing gospel of Christ. They hated it in the first century and they hate it now.

  53. hank says:

    Royce, it says “faith only” (“faith alone in the other translations) because that is what they two words mean in Greek. Its not foolish….its true.

  54. hank says:

    JMF, so I guess you believe that sinners who have not been immersed but who have “accepted Jesus” via some way other than baptism can be saved nevertheless? Because it seems as though you deem whoever stands on what the book of God clearly teaches regarding it as a “legalist” who refuses to give the credit for saving man to Jesus.

  55. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Laymond,

    You make a classic argument, which proves too much. (That which proves too much proves nothing, is the old saying — and it’s a good one.) By your reasoning, if I make any mistake at all, I’m damned. If Luke 6:46 damns all who err on baptism, then I suppose it damns those who err on the number of children an elder must have and whether an elder must have children and whether adult children who leave the faith disqualify a man from the eldership. Obviously, Jesus teaches no such thing, or else the standard would be doctrinal perfection.

    Indeed, Jesus is speaking much more of what we do than what doctrine we believe: “do not do.” Therefore, by your reasoning, we are damned by every sin. (There are those who’d agree.)

    The Greek is ambiguous, but “do” can certainly take a continuous sense — and that fits the context very well. Jesus is speaking of the nature of the heart and behavior of the disciple, not damning all who sin even a single time.

  56. Brent says:

    This isn’t a post on baptism. Or did I misread it?

  57. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Brent,

    We have, of course, covered baptism many, many times. I’m not keen on repeating the discussion as I’ve written some lengthy, detailed series on the subject just recently and really can’t reproduce all that work in the comments.

    But Leroy’s chapter urges us not to consider ourselves the only saved people. Some readers seem to argue that we are in fact the only saved people, and that’s because erroneous baptismal theology damns, faith in Jesus and repentance notwithstanding. Thus, we quickly find why so many in the Churches of Christ believe that no one else is going to heaven: baptism.

    Sadly, we also see evidence of why the Churches of Christ are often unsure that other immersionist denominations and even other members of the CoC are going to heaven — they have error. You see, we create such strict theories to prove the absolute necessity of baptism (to prove that no one else can go to heaven) that we find our sister congregations damned too. We’re not even sure about the brother or sister next to us on the pew.

  58. JMF says:

    @Hank 8:19pm:

    I’ve stated no such thing about baptism, and honestly can’t see how you’d even be able to infer that from my post.

    My only question I asked of you was to give a working definition of faith. I think that question is fair; you discussed attaching penitence to faith — but not baptism (in reference to Jay’s beliefs) — so I am curious the extent to which you define faith.

    I’ve seen four definitions at work:

    1) faith (assent)

    2) faith (assent) + penitence

    3) faith + penitence + obedience (our best effort…though we get some things wrong)

    4) faith + penitence + obedience (you better get it right…or else)

  59. laymond says:

    Jay, I don’t know the exact number of sins that is required to send you to “Hell” but I believe it is one unforgiven sin, one that is committed and never asked forgiveness for, because you see no reason to ask forgiveness for a sin, that you don’t see as sin.

    NIV Mat 7:14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

    There is more than one place where Jesus said “be baptized” and when we say it is not necessary, we deny the truth of what Jesus said.

    Mat 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

    That could be the only sin that it takes, like I said I don’t know, I am not the judge, but I do believe Jesus said we would all be judged by his words.

  60. Doug says:

    Everyone is dancing around what I see as the real issue… the issue of fellowship. The CofC has long taken all of the “truths” listed in various pamphlets and used them to define who the imposter Christians are. Of course, the CofC couldn’t agree on the items on the list but that’s a different issue. Baptism is just one of the “Truths”. Most CofC’ers wouldn’t even consider a joint venture with say the Episcopalians but I was once a Episcopalian and I was the same Christian then as I am now. I had been baptised by immersion for the forgiveness of my sins and yes, all of the correct words were said at my baptism. I have met some CofC people who were re-baptised because the correct words were not said and they were afraid than made their baptism invalid. Silly! The point is, if the CofC can call me “Brother” now, they should have been able to call me “Brother” when I was an Episcopalian because I am the same Christian now that I was then. I will always teach baptism for the remission of sins but I will not neglect fellowship with whomever has faith in Jesus as the Son of God because of their manner of baptism or their understanding of baptism.

  61. abasnar says:

    @ Royce

    but I don’t recall the Lord’s Supper being called “spiritual food” in the Bible.

    It may be easy to overlook it. It’s in 1Co 10:

    1Co 10:1 For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,
    1Co 10:2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
    1Co 10:3 and all ate the same spiritual food,
    1Co 10:4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

    After this Paul speaks aboutthe table of the Lord, the bread and th wine. I think this text lines up perfectly with the Lord’s discourse on the Manna in John 6 which culminates in his provoking statement: Eat my flesh and drink my blood. Of course not literally, but spiritually.

    Alexander

  62. abasnar says:

    @Charles

    Now, to Jesus’ hearers at that moment in space and time, either this statement was to be depended upon, or it was not to be believed. Jesus did NOT tell them, “Now, you’ll have to wait until the new book comes out to really understand this. There’s more to having eternal life that you’ll have to find out later.”

    The people back then did not have the book but had the person. They (normally) did not have such an isolated encounter with the Lord – and they would never have understood this one conversation as containing His complete teaching. They observed what He did and taught otherwise. Yes, in the preceding chapter 4 of John we even see that His disciples baptized which would have been well known to all who met Him back then.

    And we should keep in mind that all conversations in scripture are mainly summaries; we don’t know which questions and replies probably followed.

    But aside of this: Even John 5:24 is not isolated, because Jesus just a few verses later continues that our good works will determine in which of the two resurrections we will find ourselves. So judgment is determined … by works, not by faith only.

    I do agree however that if a person just passed by during the conversation and overheard just this one sentence (John 5:24) he would have left with a wrong impression. But this happens to us also as soon as we base our beliefs on single verses pulled out of their context here and there.

    Alexander

  63. laymond says:

    Doug, why did you switch?

  64. Doug says:

    I moved and decided to go back to my restoration movement roots. I was unhappy with the Episcopalian decision to allow active homosexuals into the clergy ranks and couldn’t support those who forced that decision through. I believe the bible speaks clearly about homosexuality activity although I still have questions about some of the children I have met who had obvious gender issues as children and as adults acted on those issues.

  65. Bruce Morton says:

    Royce:
    In response to your question about Titus 3:4-7, Jay’s article is helpful in laying out some of the textual evidence for seeing the teaching as referring to immersion baptism.

    Beyond that I will refer you to numerous webforums and commentaries that have drawn the same conclusion. (Type “Titus 3:4-7 and baptism” into a search engine and the results come rolling out.) Now I will highlight that not all who comment are thinking “immersion baptism,” but I believe it significant that few have decided that Titus 3:4-7 refers to something other than baptism. If we are looking for “oneness,” Titus 3:4-7 is one of those places where the believing world gets close. Baptism is indeed an action of God’s grace!

    But I recall that you have asked your question before and I have responded. So, I should probably stop now.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  66. Charles McLean says:

    alexander wrote: “And we should keep in mind that all conversations in scripture are mainly summaries; we don’t know which questions and replies probably followed.”

    cm: “Indeed. So we should not start auto-splicing things into such texts as are not suggested.”

    alexander: “But aside of this: Even John 5:24 is not isolated, because Jesus just a few verses later continues that our good works will determine in which of the two resurrections we will find ourselves. So judgment is determined … by works, not by faith only.”

    cm: So you are offering salvation by faith plus works here? I just want to be sure I am hearing clearly. For the syllogism there would be pretty simple: it teaches that our works save us, despite what Paul says. If water + chicken = soup, then if you have water and don’t add chicken, you don’t get soup. Call it the chicken soup syllogism.

    And the interpretation of John 5 being offered here seems to incorporate water baptism in “doing good”, and not being baptized is incorporated into “doing evil”. I don’t find anything in this context upon which to base this inference.

    UNLESS we define “doing good” as Jesus did. Jesus said that “the works that God requires” is to believe on him whom God has sent. If we use Jesus’ definition, rather than applying our own, then verse 29 does not additively change the meaning of verse 24, but rather illustrates it without changing it at all.

    As to misunderstanding Jesus by only listening to him as we pass by, just how many of his statements did we need to string together in order for what we heard to be trustworthy? Two? Ten? A full canon’s worth? Was this knowledge not available to the general public until the advent of James Strong?

    This seems to be some sort of finding hidden truth by concatenation. But Jesus wasn’t writing a systematic theology, unfathomable until later writings were compiled– he was revealing himself. HE is the Truth. I don’t have a problem with two statements offering more revelation than one statement. I do have a problem with one statement by Jesus being considered not trustworthy outside of statements from other contexts.

  67. hank says:

    Doug,

    I get mocked for bringing up churches that welcome and embrace active homosexuals as if they aren’t really out thete (even though there are thousands and increasing by the week). What gets me is the reluctance of so many (even here) to declare such “Christians” as unfaithful and therefore not saved.

    And now, Leroy and Jay want to say that the “truth” (as used in the Bible) does not apply to sins like homosexuality nor to doctrines such as baptism and therefore churches can believe whatever they want about both subjects and yet be considered as faithful to “the truth”.

    They say what ultimately matter is only THE “truth” which is limited to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. With all other issues, we can believe and teach whatever we want and yet still be technically holders of “the truth” so long as we believe in Jesus.

  68. Bruce Morton says:

    Jay:
    Your essay above (and Leroy’s) and all of the subsequent critiques of “mainline coc” and “traditional 20th century coc” do not give the “correction” you suggest. And your “I have written much about baptism” is not sufficient as well. Your essay to begin this webchain announces a man who wants to talk about faith, but avoid another subject….

    THE ROOT OF THIS DISCUSSION

    Both you and Leroy are fighting a theological war that does NOT represent what many of us are arguing on this webforum that the apostles taught. And it is an important discussion (Indeed, that is why you have written the essay you have to begin this webchain… and why Leroy Garrett has written what he has.)

    CONCLUSION

    Please tell us how your view of baptism distances you from the legalism you (correctly) oppose. I.e. What is baptism, Jay? Is it an action of God, an action of His grace or an action of humanity? What I genuinely wonder is whether you are offering something different. Let’s call it “Guinism!”

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  69. Doug says:

    Hank,

    Where I disagreed with the Episcopalians was over their actions which essentially declared something the bible says is a sin, a non-sin. I think a church can still teach what the bible says about sin without “declaring” anyone worshipping in their church “unfaithful and not saved”. I think we are apt to do that when the sin is obvious for all to see and not so quick to action when the sin is hidden in an individual. Remember, sinners can always repent (I do it often) and God is quick to forgive. What good does it do to drive a sinner away from his/her church? How does that help that person back to God? If everyone’s sin was exposed for all to see, how many of us would be left standing? I would suggest that declaring someone unfaithful would only be appropriate when the goal is to bring that person back to faithfulness. If the goal is to punish, I’d leave that to God. I would never declared somebody “Unsaved” as that seems pretty close to judging that person and you and I are not worthy to judge.

    Doug

  70. Doug says:

    Hank,

    I also don’t see Jay as ever saying “we can believe and teach whatever we want and yet still be technically holders of “the truth” so long as we believe in Jesus” .

  71. hank says:

    Doug,

    I think there is a difference between a Christian who sins and wishes he didn’t and feels guilty and remorseful and the Christian who sins but calls his sin a “non sin” and even takes pride in and promotes it. I pass by churches everyday with rainbow flags and signs which suggest that God has no issue with practicing homosexuals.

    You write:

    “I would never declared somebody “Unsaved” as that seems pretty close to judging that person and you and I are not worthy to judge.”

    Really? While I certainly understand our inability to declare whether or not a certain person is saved (I have even argued that there are times where we may not know whether or not our own selves are saved), I do believe that there are times where it is evident that one is in blatant rebellion to God.

    And surely, churches (Christians) who allow “active homosexuals into the clergy ranks” are examples of those who are not walking in the light and are lost. Didn’t Jesus already say that such “shall not” inheret the kingdom?
    I realize that active homosexuals were/are not the ONLY ones he mentioned, but he did mention them.

    Why is it so wrong and “judgmental” of us to say that the ones who Jesus says are lost…are actually lost (unless they repent)?

  72. hank says:

    Doug, here is what Jay told me:

    “Rather than relying on the meaning of “true” in logic, I suggest we rely on how the word is used by the authors of the NT. “Truth” is normally used as a term of art, referring to the truth of about Jesus, the gospel of the Kingdom of God. I can find no use of “truth” to refer to baptism.
    What does that prove? Well, that you and I can agree on “truth” and yet disagree on baptism. If we disagree, then surely one of us is wrong. Maybe both of us. But we still agree on the truth.”

    See that? We can disagree on baptism, and yet agree on “the truth.”But, why stop there? Along the same lines, would be able to disagree on whether or not homosexuallity is a sin and yet “still agree on the truth.” We could then do the same with stealing, lying and any other sin or Bible doctrine.

    And so, while Jay may not have actually said “we can believe and teach whatever we want and yet still be technically holders of “the truth” so long as we believe in Jesus” .

    His statements above certainly imply that. Think about it, if “truth” ONLY pertains to “the person of Jesus and the gospel of the kingdom of God” and not to specific teachings of the Bible like baptism, then why can’t we believe and teach whatever we want on everything other than “the person of Jesus and the gospel of the kingdom of God”??

    If baptism has nothing to do with “the person of Jesus or the gospel of the Kingdom of God” (and therefore nothing to do with “the truth”), then why would the topic of homosexuallity?

    Therefore, by implication, whatever a Christian believes and teaches regarding baptism, homosexuality, and/or scores of other subjets has nothing to do in terms of whether or not he is holding to “THE truth”

  73. Doug says:

    Hank,

    If the “Truth” is what you think it to be, then we could just compile a list of beliefs and say “Here’s the truth”. All of the Church groups and denominations have done that and they are called creeds. The CofC is a bit sneaky about their creeds and would never write them down but they do exist and the difference between various CofC creeds has been the continuing cause of a lot of strife within the CofC.

    I see Jesus as the truth, the way, the life… He was the true picture of God in human life form so we could catch a glimpse of God that we could understand. If we can just live our life as Jesus lived his life, we will be living the truth of God, the way of God and the life of God. Jesus didn’t live his life by following creeds, He was the truth come down from heaven so we could see the truth in terms we’d understand. If we live as Jesus lived, we’ll be living “the truth”.

  74. abasnar says:

    So you are offering salvation by faith plus works here?

    Well, what is Christ “offering” when He says (quite plainly) your good works determine whether you’ll be raised for life or for judgement? You tell me :-)

    (He didn’t mention baptism here – is baptism a good work at all? I doubt it, since it is – and i agree with Bruce on this – a work of God)

    Alexander

  75. Royce Ogle says:

    First to Hank…

    I agree with you about the absolute fact that homosexual activity is a sin and those who condone it sin as well. But may I ask, do you not sin? You declare those damned who err about homosexuality and seem to be saying that you are saved because you are “faithful” (whatever that means..)

    There is not one human who lives on such a moral plain that God will accept him on that basis. Why did Jesus bleed and die if you’re “faithfulness” is all God requires?

    And Bruce… The fact that you can quote many sources that agree with your conclusions about a verse of scripture does not make it so. The Titus passage is like the “water” in John 3. Many believe that too is a reference to water baptism and many believe it does not. The truth is we can’t possibly know for sure. When I teach a passage like that I give the most popular opinions (and that is all they are) and let the folks decide for themselves.

    You even know someone who refers to to the letter to the Ephesians as a manual on baptism (or something close to that). That is certainly a minority viewpoint. As Jay pointed out my conclusion of what the meaning of a certain passage is is not final or authroitative. Neither I nor you or anyone else is inspired as were Bible authors nor are we infallible.

    You must admit that in the coc we have a long history of making opinions equal to the word of God so that men can damn other men who cross their personal boundaries. Some do that here.

  76. Doug says:

    Alexander,

    My take on the judgement and works described by Jesus in the parable of the sheep and goats is maybe a bit different. I think that any Christian who life is being led by the Holy Spirit gifted to him/her at their baptism will have works that cause him to located on the sheep side of the barnyard. There’s just no way that person can avoid having works to present at judgement. Works and a Spirit led life can’t be separated.

    So the lack of works has a couple of possible causes. One, the person has never accepted Jesus as Lord of their life and two, the person has accepted Jesus as Lord but never died to self and allowed the Spirit to breath new life into them, i.e. their life is not being led by the Spirit. Either of these two situations could make a person a goat. The works that Jesus is talking about here are a result of being led by the Spirit and not the result of personal sacrifice. One can do good works and hate every minute of the time spent doing them. That is personal sacrifice. When you are led by the Spirit, you will love every minute you spend working in the kingdom. These kind of works are the proof that a person has truly yeilded their life to God. Anyway, that’s how I see it.

  77. hank says:

    I only keep referring to homosexuality beczause it is one of the rare sins that even many “Christians” take “pride” in and deny that such is wrong in any kind of way. How many other clear sins do people take pride in and want to advance?

    And while we are all sinners, the Bible teaches that at some point, even a Christian can so persist in a sin as to be lost. And if its not the ones who say hey, the Bible calls this a sin, nut we deny it and are proud of what wwe do that are lost, who then is? Would it be so wrong to tell them (or anybody else for that matter) “hey, if you don’t change your way and repent you WILL be lost”? Or, since we are all sinners, should we refrain from ever suggesting that another person is not right with God? You tell me.

  78. hank says:

    And while I do understand that it sounds all nice and loving to not point out and stand against any particular sin (esp. since we ALL have sin anyway), but that is falling right into Satan’s plan, I believe.

    Perhaps the church, and even our nation, would be a lot better of in terms of pleasing to God were there more men and women with the nerve to stgand up and say, “that’s enough…that is immoral, this is wicked, that’s not right, etc…” rather than to take the approach of others who say, “well, we ARE ALL sinners so whom and I to blow the whistle on this guy or that church. If I suggest that somebody is lost because of their sin, then that must mean I think In perfect.”

    And to quote Royce, such reasoning is “foolish”. And, Satan pleasing to boot!

  79. Royce Ogle says:

    Hank,

    Again, are you “faithful” or good enough to be saved? is that how you know? That’s what I’m getting at.

    Maybe you don’t understand that God doesn’t tolerate any sin. One tiny infraction of God’s holy Law makes one guilty of the whole of it. If sin makes one lost as you insist then all of us are lost because all of us sin. All of us break God’s law. According to 1John, if we deny this fact, not only are we liars but are calling God a liar to boot.

    Are you saved by your “faithfulness”? If you are why do you need Jesus at all?

  80. Royce Ogle says:

    LOL, I have small grandchildren who can tell a sheep from a goat. The point many miss is that they are two very different animals, Just as saved folks and those who are still dead in their sins.

  81. hank says:

    Royce,

    We gone round and round with this before (after at least one occasion, you wrote a long story and promised you were done, guess you got your energy back). At any rate, I never talked about how faithful I am personally, in fact, I am the one who has argued time and again that we should all be a little concerned about making sure we are not lukewarm and sickening to Jesus. Wherease most everybody else here somehow knows that they are not at all lukewarm according to how God sees such.

    But the knife cuts both ways Royce. You think you really have me cornered in asking of me how good is good (faithful) enough to be saved? I don’t know the answer to that. But, surely we have to be good (faithful) to some extent?

    But I may ask you how deep in sin must a person be to be lost. Again, I do not know the answer to that. I don’t believe anybody here does. Do you? I think you will say that if a person is ever saved at all, he just will not ever even be able to sin enough to be last. But that too is a foolish argument.

  82. Royce Ogle says:

    Hank,

    You are too kind. Thanks for the clarification.

    Precisely the reason we need the work of Jesus applied to our lives is that you and I are not good enough and can’t be good enough to meet God’s lofty standard of righteousness. Day by day you, and I, keep trusting Jesus, walking in the light the best we can (even we disagree about things often) and our sins are not counted against us they are counted against Jesus. This truth, not good works by human effort, is the essence of Christianity.

    Yes, by all means, Christians will have good works. They were “created” for good works which God decided before hand that we should walk in them. People who live like hell are not Christians and there is no Bible evidence they ever were Christians.

    We agree on more than we disagree on. Christ Jesus our Lord is our only hope and plea, without his work for us we would have NO hope. We must put our whole trust in Him.

    Royce

  83. Bruce Morton says:

    Royce:
    I get weary with you and Jay spending much time describing what you think Scripture does NOT say or challenging what churches of Christ have taught. So, let me ask you the same question I asked Jay:

    Is baptism an action of God, an act of grace or an action of humanity, a “work?” Based on the Scriptures you have read, which is it Royce?

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  84. Alabama John says:

    Hank,
    Some that can’t decide what is natural or not should look at nature created by God for examples. They need to do as the song suggest and come to the farm, come on down to the barn, you won’t see two roosters walking arm and arm.

  85. hank says:

    What do you mean “can’t decide what is natural or not”?

    Seems like a cool song though….

  86. Bruce Morton says:

    Royce:
    I read the post you highlighted and specifically I read this regarding “water baptism” (immersion):

    “In baptism we look to Christ and what He accomplished on our behalf when He died for our sins, was buried, and raised from the dead. Water baptism does not join us to the church nor does it join us to God but it does cry out to a watching world “I belong to Christ and I purpose to live only for Him!”

    Your post sounds much like the view that has been held by many Baptists that baptism is a “work” we do, a symbol we express. Is that correct or am I missing something?

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  87. Bruce Morton says:

    Jay:
    Where are you? I think a number of us who have waded in during the past year are interested in your response to the question about baptism: What is it? An action of God’s grace or a human “work?”

    I am well aware that this is your weblog and you feel the liberty to say and do what you wish. However, I will suggest that you yourself would expect no less candor of others were the subject of discussion legalism.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  88. abasnar says:

    @ Doug

    There’s just no way that person can avoid having works to present at judgement. Works and a Spirit led life can’t be separated.

    So the lack of works has a couple of possible causes. One, the person has never accepted Jesus as Lord of their life and two, the person has accepted Jesus as Lord but never died to self and allowed the Spirit to breath new life into them, i.e. their life is not being led by the Spirit. Either of these two situations could make a person a goat.

    That’s what I believe, too. I’d never say that we must do works out of our own strength, but by following the prompting ofthe Spirit inthe power of the Spirit.

    Yet, my words were written in the context of a “faith only”-discussion. And here I tried to make clear that we will be judged by our works – works done out of faith and love, by the prompting and in the power of the Spirit; but nonetheless works.

    @ Royce

    (Just an analogy:) How faithful are you to your wife? Faithful enough not to get divorced I suppose – but absolutely faithful? I think the idea of being absolutely perfect in our attitudes and conduct in order to be saved is a grave mischaracterization of the scriptural demand for holiness and practical righteousness.

    Think about this verse: “The just will live by faith.”

    Why not by his righteousness – since he is even called “just”? Because all our righteousness is relative not absolute. Even in the OT it was necessary to trust in the blood of a lamb to be cleansed; and God wanted His people to cling to Him in love and faith. This faith is saving faith – but salvation is promised to the just, the righteous ones.

    The unjsut – the scriptures are clear about that as well – will not inherit the Kingdom. And this warning is spoken to Christians.

    So, we don’t live by our works but by faith – but if we we are unrighteous our faith is worth nothing. so works DO play a role in our salvation although they alone cannot save us.

    Alexander

  89. Alan says:

    Hank wrote:

    I agree with you about the absolute fact that homosexual activity is a sin and those who condone it sin as well. But may I ask, do you not sin? You declare those damned who err about homosexuality and seem to be saying that you are saved because you are “faithful” (whatever that means..)

    But the scriptures say:

    Heb 10:26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,
    Heb 10:27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
    Heb 10:28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
    Heb 10:29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

    And Jesus himself said

    Luk_13:3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

    Whether the sin is lying, or homosexuality, or anything else, our salvation is contingent upon our repentance. Yes, we’ll sin again. But we can’t give up the fight. Too many people seem to prefer excusing their sin (“We all sin”) rather than repenting.

  90. Alan says:

    Sorry, that was Frank, not Hank, whom I quoted above.

  91. Alan says:

    I need my coffee. Sorry. It was Royce.

  92. Charles McLean says:

    Alan wrote: “Whether the sin is lying, or homosexuality, or anything else, our salvation is contingent upon our repentance.”
    >>>
    This is true of people outside of Christ, to whom Jesus was speaking. But once we are in Christ, our place in Him is not contingent upon our serial repentences. Either we are in Christ or we are not. We do not, upon the occasion of our sin, stop being in Christ until we repent, only to be re-inserted. This old canard is best described as the “doctrine of intermittent salvation”. A son of God today, sins and is nothing more than firewood tomorrow. A woman is in Christ on Thursday, hell-bound on Saturday night, and a stone in the house of God by noon on Sunday. God forbid that she be hit by a bus at 2:30 Sunday morning.

    Our life in Christ does require us to continue to repent of our sins, to continue to embrace positive changes in direction in the Holy Spirit’s continuing formation of us into the likeness of Christ. But our eternal place in Christ is not maintained by repentance. It is maintained by Him.

  93. Alan says:

    Charles McLean unfortunately wrote:

    This is true of people outside of Christ, to whom Jesus was speaking. But once we are in Christ, our place in Him is not contingent upon our serial repentences.

    Please re-read the Hebrews 10:26. If you choose to continue in sin rather than repent there no longer remains a sacrifice for your sins. That was not written to people outside of Christ.

  94. Charles McLean says:

    Someone suggested: “So the lack of works has a couple of possible causes. One, the person has never accepted Jesus as Lord of their life and two, the person has accepted Jesus as Lord but never died to self and allowed the Spirit to breath new life into them, i.e. their life is not being led by the Spirit.”
    >>>
    I can buy Number One here; never has the church been without “brother who are not brothers”. As it is said, going to church makes you a Christian in the same way that standing in the garage makes you a Toyota.

    However, choice Number Two seems more than incredible to me. It suggests that faith– which is the gift of God– can be of such a nature as to regenerate the Adamic man, to birth him of the Spirit, but then be powerless to change that man any further without that man’s own self-leadership. Choice Number Two implies that the Holy Spirit is nothing more than a passive agent, sitting forlornly on the bench waiting to be called by the man whom He indwells.

    Jesus, mighty to save and impotent thereafter! No, I don’t buy it. I think this idea Number Two reflects our own judgment, which too often looks at a man and says, “He can’t really be saved; he’s a jerk!”

    Remember Paul’s simple words, “And he WILL stand, for God is able to make him stand.”

    I fully expect to stand one day next to other believers at the Gate, looking at them and thinking, “Him? Really? Wow.” And simple humilty requires me to believe that I myself may inspire some similar reactions.

  95. Charles McLean says:

    Alan, indeed when one rejects Christ, having already been saved, there remains no sacrifice for sin. None. Nothing upon which to place our cry for reconciliation to the Father. Nothing. No leaving Christ and then calling upon the blood of Jesus to cover us again. Here, the one thing which reconciles man to God is no longer available to us. We are outside the camp with no further entrance available to us. That is the message of Hebrews 10, especially if you read the whole thing in context. It is a message that even the people of God, if they turn away, will be lost. But this one-time departure is not what is traditionally taught in the CoC.

    In fact, the traditional CoC doctrine of intermittent salvation is a direct contradiction to Hebrews 10. It says that the sacrifice DOES remain, just as long as you keep repenting satisfactorally. It teaches that it is your continuing repentance which maintains your place in Christ. But if you don’t repent enough, the sacrifice does not apply to you and you are lost… until you DO repent enough, whereupon you get back what the writer here says is gone.

    A more man-centered salvation could not be constructed. This is a gospel of the “down payment at the Cross”. Jesus did not “pay it all”, no, no, no. Rather, he made the down payment on my behalf. After that, my repentances and my good works keep me in good standing with God. Ah, the chutzpah!

    How anyone thinks this doctine of intermittent salvation is supported by the writer of Hebrews 10 is, frankly, beyond me.

  96. Alan says:

    It says that the sacrifice DOES remain, just as long as you keep repenting satisfactorally.

    Ok that’s not what I understood you to say previously. It is necessary to repent of sin repeatedly (“serial repentances” in your previous comment) because we sin repeatedly. Whether that sin is homosexuality, lust, lying, stealing, greed, envy, slander… it makes no difference. We can’t just accept the sin in our lives as inevitable. When we sin, we have to resolve anew never to do it again.

  97. Doug says:

    Charles,

    You wrote: “However, choice Number Two seems more than incredible to me.” . Choice number 2 refers to a people quenching the work of the Spirit in their life.

    Do you really believe that’s so incredible? Do you really not know anyone who might fall into that category? If so, you live in a different world than me. My world has people in it who have sat in Church and Bible studies for most of their life but that’s the extent of their “Works”. Some even avidly avoid helping anyone outside of their congregation. I think choice 2 is the more likely condition in most of todays CofC’s (and other Churches) than the “incredible” condition.

  98. Doug says:

    One more thing Charles… I would agree with you that a person’s self leadership will not by itself lead to a Spirit led life. That’s why a Christian should make use of Spiritual exercises to develop the Spirit that God has given them. If the Spirit is ignored and not exercised, it will be weak and unable to overcome a persons self interest.

  99. Royce Ogle says:

    What I am learning here (not really, I already knew it…) is that for most of the commenters here salvation is a best tenuous and depends mostly upon the person himself and not God.

    At least no one can say there is any dishonesty when guys come right out and say clearly they are saved and stay saved by their good works and incredible accuracy in confessing and repenting of every sin committed.

    It’s also very easy to understand why someone who believes this way would also believe you can’t really know for sure you are saved.

    The flesh does not give up easily huh?

  100. Alan says:

    Royce, go back and read what people have said and quit putting words in people’s mouths.

    And while you’re reading, check out these passages about the effort required for salvation.

    2Pe 3:14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

    Heb 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

    Luk 13:24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.

    1Co 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
    1Co 9:25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
    1Co 9:26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.
    1Co 9:27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

  101. Royce Ogle says:

    Maybe a good topic to study here Jay would be atonement, or perhaps the doctrine of justification. You may have already covered those things in earlier posts but I don’t remember them if you did.

    Alan, I have never argued against holiness and good deeds for the child of God. What I have rejected is that men are saved by what they do and I believe instead they are saved on the basis of what Christ has done. There is a huge difference and the two are not compatible.

    People who live a pattern of sinfulness are not saved and have not been saved according my limited understanding of the Bible, ie 1st John, and many others.

    I flat out reject any doctrine that puts man in the place of God. God is not standing in the wings waiting to do our bidding. He is LORD, has all knowledge, and all power in heaven and earth, and knows ahead of time who will and who will not come to Him through Christ.

    Groups of Christians by whatever name that preach Christ, who make much of him, are seeing lives transformed to God’s glory. Those groups who harp continually on a pet doctrine or preference are just going through the motions. God didn’t send His one and only Son to die so we could go to church and correct everyone else. Jesus didn’t come to condemn but to save. He didn’t send anyone else to condemn either.

    I took your advice and read over several comments and guess what?, I was right. lol

  102. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Laymond wrote,

    I don’t know the exact number of sins that is required to send you to “Hell” but I believe it is one unforgiven sin, one that is committed and never asked forgiveness for, because you see no reason to ask forgiveness for a sin, that you don’t see as sin.

    Laymond,

    That is very conventional 20th Century Church of Christ thought — and under that interpretation, you are only saved if you die momentarily after asking for forgiveness from every sin, have repented from every sin, and are aware of every sin. In short, it’s not salvation at all. If you think it’s okay to worship in a church that has an elder with just one child, and you’re mistaken, you’re damned under that interpretation. And that sort of thinking is exactly what has led to over a century of painful, senseless division and to a sense that salvation is very nearly unattainable.

    No one can measure up to such a standard. Thank God, that doctrine isn’t scriptural.

  103. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Doug,

    You’re right that the issue is bigger than baptism. After all, most CoCs also refuse to associate with independent Christian Churches or the many other fellowships that baptize believers by immersion for remission of sins.

  104. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Hank,

    Can you not understand that the NT writers are free to define a term as they wish? And if they want to limit “truth” to the gospel, it is in fact so limited when we’re discussing the NT? There are, of course, other true things.

    There are 27 NT books. It’s true. It’s not “the truth” as Paul uses the word. 2 + 2 = 4 is quite true. It is, in the abstract, a truth. It is NOT “the truth” as the NT writers use the word because it is not the gospel. I’ve already sent you a link to a series where I cover EVERY passage in the NT. I’m pretty sure I have this simple proposition right.

    I asked you a series of questions in an effort to help you think about NT things in NT ways. Your response is to accuse me of ridiculing you (which I’ve not done) and to ignore the questions.

    Let’s start with a simple question: Do you agree that the NT normally uses “truth” as a term of art to refer to the truth about Jesus, the gospel?

    I’ve cited several dozen verses to defend my view. Again, these verse may be found at http://oneinjesus.info/index-under-construction/theology-church-of-christ-issues/truth-what-is/.

    Before you change the subject to talk about homosexual clergypersons, let’s work through the issue I actually raised.

    Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?

  105. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Bruce,

    See the series “Baptism, an Exploration.” It’s indexed under Theology — Church of Christ Issues / Baptism. The series was finished in 2011.

    And, yes, I really don’t see the need to cover the topic at that level of detail again this soon, taunts notwithstanding.

  106. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Bruce wrote,

    Where are you?

    I’m an elder. I spend Monday night doing the work of an elder. I spent Sunday night at church at our fall children’s event. I post daily because I post a few days ahead. There are many days I have to be away from the computer. It’s not fair to accuse me of a lack of candor just because I can’t respond immediately to your questions.

    You’ve been on this site long enough to know that I’ve written several books worth of material on baptism. My views are more public record than anyone else I can think of.

  107. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Royce,

    I most recently covered grace in detail a couple of years ago in the Amazing Grace series. It is, of course, my very favorite topic. I just hate to repeat myself too much. Maybe after the current series end.

  108. Royce Ogle says:

    Thanks Jay, I appreciate your work. The easiest thing to do is to be a critic. The hard work is the research and writing that you do endlessly and very well.

    I don’t always agree but I always admire your work ethic, your love for Jesus and appreciation for what He accomplished for sinners, and your long-suffering with your readers.

    Royce

  109. Bruce Morton says:

    Jay:
    Not good enough, brother. You pressed on me in the same way some months ago (on a different topic) — with the same question: When I did not answer in A DAY, you wrote, “Bruce, where are you?” (Want me to produce the interchange from the files?)

    And let me note that my original question of 10/29 is one you still have not answered… even in your 9:40 pm post! And before you push me to your archives, let me share that if this was an easy question for you to answer… you would have already done so and you would NOT be pushing me to your archives….

    It actually astonishes me that, given your focus on grace in One in Jesus, the connection between grace and baptism has not been the focus of an essay on this webforum. Any explanation for that?

    If you do not have one, then let me offer one. From what I can tell, it is one of two subjects that the “Progressive” (or whatever you want to call it) movement wrestles with most of all. It just not fit either ranting about some churches of Christ talking about baptism as a “work” (which it is not) and the teaching that does not “fit” “The ultimate test of salvation is faith in Jesus” perspective.

    Apostolic teaching about baptism as an action of God’s grace actually reveals one of the most significant flaws in current “Progressive” thought within churches of Christ — including Leroy Garrett’s recent approach to “saving” churches of Christ.

    Glad for you to begin to revise my perspective by indicating with clarity that baptism is indeed an action of God’s grace. Or do you believe it is a “work?”

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  110. laymond says:

    “What I have rejected is that men are saved by what they do and I believe instead they are saved on the basis of what Christ has done.”

    Royce, when it comes right down to the nitty-gritty, man is saved by what God has done, AND how man reacts to it.
    You will not be saved except , accepting what God has done, with a positive reaction, through obediance.
    This is called “faith through trust” . So I have to disagree with you, man is saved through both, what God did, and what man does. Question; Royce if you can be lost by what you do, why can’t one be saved by what they do? I believe Jesus said he was going through your record, and judge accordingly. If we are to be judged on Jesus’ record we will all, every human being will meet in heaven. How I wish that were so, but according to the book, it is not.

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