1 Thessalonians: Chapter 2:13-16

1-thessalonians2:13

(1 Thess. 2:13 ESV)  13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

Notice how Paul uses “word of God.” It obviously can’t mean “New Testament,” in that       1 Thes is either the first or second book written of the NT. Nor does it mean “Bible,” because Paul isn’t speaking of the OT; he’s speaking of the gospel.

This “word of God” has the power to work within believers. Well, believers believe the gospel and non-believers do not.

Let’s go back to —

(1 Thess. 1:4-8 ESV)  4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,  5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.  6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,  7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.  8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.

You can’t help but notice the parallels between “gospel” and “word.” These thing produce faith and believers.

We could refer to dozens of other passages. These should make the point:

(1 Cor. 14:36 ESV)  36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 

Paul is saying that the “word of God” came from the Jews. What message did God communicate from the Jews, through Paul, to the Corinthian church? The gospel.

(2 Tim. 2:8-15 ESV)  8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,  9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!  10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.  11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;  12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;  13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himself.  14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.  15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

We desperately want to make “word” mean “Bible” or “a list of God’s commands” when in fact Paul has the gospel in mind.

Of course, we’re also bad to redefine “gospel” to mean “doctrine,” so that a “gospel preacher” conducts a “gospel meeting” that deals with everything but Jesus and the cross. And that entirely misses the point.

To clinch the argument, consider the grossly abused phrase “obey the gospel.” In most conservative Church of Christ sermons, “obey the gospel” means “be baptized,” utterly without proof or evidence.

But consider —

(Rom. 10:15-17 ESV)  15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”  16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”  17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

If English means anything, Paul plainly means by “obey the gospel” that we should believe the word of Christ and so come to faith in Jesus. Baptism is not under discussion, and hasn’t been since over four chapters earlier. The topic is faith in Jesus.

Looking ahead a bit, we have —

(2 Thess. 1:5-10 ESV)  5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering — 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you,  7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels  8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,  10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

Who is damned? Those who “do not obey the gospel.” Who is not damned? “All who have believed.” Obviously, “obey the gospel” means “believe in Jesus.”

And yet our preachers routinely take “obey the gospel” entirely out of context to mean “be baptized,” and we never, ever call them on it. We say that we’re people of the book, and that we search the scriptures to see whether what we’re told it true. But we don’t. Not when our childhood teachings are being affirmed.

2:14-16

(1 Thess. 2:14-16 ESV)  14 For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews,  15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind  16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved — so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!

This is a challenging passage. The general statement is that the Thessalonians imitated the Jerusalem congregation by suffering the same persecution that the Jerusalem Christians suffered. That’s a dramatic claim — and points out the degree to which persecution and suffering were tied to faith in the early church. Paul is not the least surprised by their suffering, and sees it as a mark of the genuineness of their faith.

The difficult part of the verse is Paul’s broadly worded condemnation of “the Jews.” He blames “the Jews” for the persecution of the Jerusalem church, for killing Jesus, for killing the prophets, for driving “us” (the apostles?) out of Jerusalem, and hindering “us” (Paul’s missionary group, the apostles?) from preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. As a result, he declares that the Jews are filling up the measure of their sins and are presently suffering wrath.

So is Paul suddenly an anti-Semite? How should we understand him? Well, consider —

  • Paul is comparing the Thessalonians’ countrymen (fellow Gentiles) to the Jews. What he says about the Jews he is also saying about unbelieving Gentiles — in principle. Obviously, they didn’t kill the prophets, but they brought suffering to God’s faithful children — just as the unbelieving Jews were doing.
  • We likely see here an early version of the early church’s doctrine of a “third race.” Christians are not Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles. They are neither. They are just Christians and so one race, one nation, one people. “The Jews” therefore are not believers.
  • As we see in Rom 9 – 11, Paul is fully capable of speaking and thinking in terms of corporate or national guilt. This is foreign to the individualism of the West, but it’s written all over the Bible.
    • When God sent Moses, it was to rescue the nation of Israel — not just certain faithful individuals. (Although some didn’t make it due to their lack of faith.)
    • When God judged the Northern Kingdom as idolatrous, the entire nation was destroyed by Assyria. There was no individual judgment. They were judged as a nation.
    • When God judged Judah as idolatrous, he allowed the Babylonians to carry the entire nation off into captivity. There was no individual judgment.
    • When God sent John the Baptist, then Jesus, and then the apostles to call the Jews to repentance and so to end their Exile from God as prophesied in Deu 30, they went to the nation and called for national repentance — although they accepted individual repentance.

(Deut. 30:1-6 ESV)  “And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God has driven you,  2 and return to the LORD your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul,  3 then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.  4 If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there he will take you.  5 And the LORD your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers.  6 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

This is language of national redemption. “You” in 30:1 is “you, the nation of Israel” not “you few who repent.” Hence, in Paul’s mind, those who repent by believing in Jesus as Messiah are the true Israel — even if they’re Gentiles! No one else is.

Doubt me? Read Stephen’s sermon —

(Acts 7:51-53 ESV)  “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.  52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered,  53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” 

Now, I’m not at all denying individual responsibility for sin. I’m just saying that that authors of scripture often think in national terms because, after all, God’s covenant is with the nation of Israel. Now, individual Jews wouldn’t be saved without individual faith and wouldn’t be damned except for their individual lack of faith in Jesus. But most of the Bible is written in terms of national salvation and national condemnation — and so it’s not at all unbiblical for Paul to write in similar terms.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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31 Responses to 1 Thessalonians: Chapter 2:13-16

  1. If the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, then baptism into His death would at least be a participation in the gospel.

  2. Dwight says:

    If the gospel is about Jesus and points to Jesus, then faith, repentance, baptism, etc. is part of the gospel. “Obey the gospel” means responding to the gospel and covers many things that we do, but it only should point towards one thing…Jesus the Son of God…the savior.
    So is obeying the gospel being baptized, yes, but so is understanding why Jesus came in the first place, which was the message of the apostles. They came to preach Christ crucified, then they would preach about how to each Christ by being buried with Christ and living in Christ.

  3. Larry Cheek says:

    Can anyone verify that those devout dedicated believers who were given the distinction of being examples to all others were not baptized? Would they have obeyed the “Gospel” if they refused baptism? I said refused because I believe that Paul would never omitted that act to which he was told plainly to submit and did obey.

  4. Dwight says:

    It is possible that the Holy Spirit baptism covered their baptism, after all they were baptized by another, which is where we always go and what the scriptures indicate. But then again so were the household of Cornelius, and they were told to be baptized. Now Cornelius probably didn’t receive the HS in the same measure as the apostles, but they did receive it. In reality the chances are they were baptized and just because we don’t have a record of it, doesn’t mean they didn’t follow that which they commanded others do.

  5. Ray Downen says:

    I don’t understand why anyone would claim the Gentile household of Cornelius was NOT baptized when Luke clearly says they immediately WERE baptized into Christ. And the gift of the Spirit sent to persuade the Jewish Christians to baptize Gentiles was not a baptism in the Spirit. Why would anyone think it was a baptism? Baptism into Christ is always performed by HUMAN hands by burying the person in water.

  6. John F says:

    Inasmuch as every spiritual blessing is in Christ (Eph 1:3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ NASU) and we are baptized “Into Christ” (Rom. 6), why would ANYONE refuse? Are we “faithed” into Christ? (Yes, I know all the verses for “faith in” [some 20]). But thru baptism we “put on” Christ (Gal. 3:27) . So we become obedient (action) to that form of doctrine (truth of the Gospel) Rom. 6:17.

    I find the continuing diminishment of the value of baptism to be wearisome, yet troubling.

  7. Dwight says:

    I’m not sure we can say that the Ethiopian eunuch didn’t receive the gospel from Peter and included in that gospel was the argument for baptism to which the eunuch responded to because he was told this as part of the gospel. It is hard to take the scriptures to mean that he was taught the gospel and then spontaneously understood by himself understood that he needed to be baptized. Even in Acts 2 the obeying of the gospel was what Peter and the apostles argued for when they said, “repent and be baptized”, because up to that point they had simply responded out of conviction and belief.

  8. Dwight says:

    The balance is to not diminish baptism and not diminish Christ either, realizing that Christ doesn’t point towards baptism as the savior, but baptism points towards Christ as the savior. It is a shame that we often argue more for baptism as the thing that saves in our churches, past Jesus as the one who saves through the baptism. All things must point to Christ as the one who saves.

  9. John F says:

    If it is baptism “per se” that saves, let us take up arms, stop the freeway traffic, and dunk them. Do you think they would go on their way rejoicing?

  10. Alabama John says:

    Good point John

    Most denominations believe in and perform baptisms in some way. Like you said, most dunk.

    But, we in the COC have believed since our inception that only those that believe and also do it like us will be saved while all others will burn in hell even if baptized, but not rightly.

    The more I read the posts on here the more we are sounding like the denominations we damned.
    Have we been wrong and they are teaching us something?

  11. dwight says:

    There is a cartoon where it shows two donuts- with two labels. Baptist- a donut covered in frosting and Methodist which has sprinkle on it. Funny.
    While I do believe dunking is baptism, we ignore the other baptism listed in the Bible, those from the NT- buried with Christ (Jesus was buried in a cave, not underground), Noah who was baptized (did not go under water, but was surrounded by it) and the Israelites as they crossed the Red Sea (also surrounded by water, but not on all sides as they crossed on dry land).
    This should crash our exclusivity of dunking, that is if we ever made applications.

  12. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwight,

    You make some good points. If the requirements for a valid baptism are as strict as we like to imagine, the scriptures are surprisingly loose in how they use “baptize” metaphorically — often in ways that argue strongly against our assumptions. The metaphor of Rom 6 is taken to be the very definition of the ONLY effective form of baptism, and yet so many metaphors are dismissed as mere metaphor and irrelevant to the discussion based on — what? Evidently, the outcome we wish to achieve.

  13. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    AJ,

    Points very well made. 99% of believers worldwide have been baptized. No one is “against baptism.” No one teaches that believers shouldn’t be baptized. Very nearly every denomination is pro-baptism and insists that believers be baptized.

    We are unspeakably arrogant and ill-informed when we imagine that “the denominations” are opposed to baptism. They are not.

    In fact, the Catholics, Orthodox, Anabaptists, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Holiness, Wesleyan, and countless Pentecostal denominations baptize for remission of sins. We have no copyright on that language! Thus it’s been taught since the First Century and is still being taught.

    It’s only the Reformed, Presbyterian, and some Baptist Churches that deny that baptism is for remission of sins — and yet they baptize their converts and their children out of obedience to God’s command.

    The question, therefore, is not whether to be for or against baptism or, for most, even whether baptism is for remission of sins. Rather, the debate is whether sprinkling or pouring works (although many denominations immerse) and whether infant baptism works.

    So an informed discussion dealing with actual issues would be regarding the efficacy of infant baptism or baptism with too little water or baptism done exactly correctly but without belief that baptism remits sin. Those are the points of disagreement. And when we reduce any of these to “he’s against baptism,” we’re just not listening and we’re debating a strawman.

  14. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    In the statement about the burial of Christ in a cave. What representation would that be concerning baptism? I don’t remember any scriptures making a reference which would lead us to believe that was any kind of baptism. I do remember that Jesus submitted to the likeness of the baptism which was administered by his Apostles. Do we discount that as not being applicable to us?
    In your rendering of Moses and the Israelite’s baptism in the sea. The text written by Paul exclaims that there is two objects in which they were baptized, notice.
    1Co 10:1-2 ESV For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, (2) and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
    Can anyone give evidence that a cloud is not also water? So according to Paul they were submersed in water. If that isn’t good enough pay attention as to how many times in scripture the presence of God was in a cloud. We even find that Christ is in the midst of clouds. Would it not be reasonable then to believe that these were baptized into God or Christ as the cloud was surrounding them similar to a fog. Remember the Temple dedication, the presence of God was said to be there powerfully.

    Any attempt to diminish the importance of immersion by these two examples, would be to distort teachings of Jesus and all his Apostles.

  15. Dwight says:

    Larry,
    Rom.6:4 “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”Here baptism and burial are reflected through each other. Christ was buried, we are buried in baptism into Christ, but Christ burial wasn’t down into the ground. We follow Christ in baptism, which is why we are dead to the world and live anew in Christ through resurrection in the spirit by the Spirit.
    The verse 1Co 10:1-2 ESV “For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,” is what I was referring to. And yes they were immersed…kind of. They walked into and then were surrounded by other water. We can assume a fog, but then again they did walk on dry land and it would be better to assume that they came out undrenched. Fog is not mentioned “And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. dry land…dry ground…”
    Remember the water surrounded them, so it didn’t have to literally touch them.

    When Jesus was buried, he was placed into a cave, but besides the pedestal he was laid on he wasn’t covered in dirt.

    You didn’t seek to confront the Noah example.
    I Peter 3 “while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism…”
    Here Noah is surrounded by water, that is water came upon them, instead of them going into the water. The results were the same however…they were surrounded. But they were also separated from the water by wood. They didn’t have to actually be individually swamped or covered by water or go into the water like a submersible. The same water that saved them doomed everyone else, who were individually and personally covered by water.

    Larry, it is not by intention to diminish immersion, but to rather call into play our understanding of what it means through the scripture by using scriptural references.
    We are told that the apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit, which means that they were overcome or surrounded by the Holy Spirit in power. This is different than water baptism, as it is the Holy Spirit, but baptism is baptism in meaning. Baptism doesn’t somehow change meaning in all of these references. The methodologies might change, but the results are the same.

  16. Dwight says:

    Oh yes I you read the account of the Jews crossing the Red Sea it states that a cloud of darkness hid them from the Egyptians and a cloud of light guided them in the night, later we read that the cloud in front of them is a cloud of fire.
    “So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.”
    vs.24 “Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the Lord looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud.”
    fire- light and cloud-dark
    So that which went before them wasn’t water, but fire. And we don’t know what the pillar was that was behind them that was dark, it could have been mist or it could have been dirt.
    And yet they were baptized because they had water on either side of them.
    But what about above them? We aren’t told, probably sky.
    And yet they are immersed.
    Let us not be pickier than God.

  17. Alabama John says:

    Jay, I agree with you!
    Those COC before us were not being mean or hateful, they believed they were following the law better than others. The only a few will be saved guided their intentions as they wanted most of all to be counted among the few.
    It was interesting how many prayers were sent to God by those of us in the COC after a debate with what we considered the lost.
    Any church growing too fast or big was looked on as suspect for growing too fast included too many expecting to be saved.
    The few was the anthem.
    Happily today far more are included and far more are expected to be seen and either greet us or we them in heaven.

  18. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    AJ,

    I agree with the anthem of the few. It’s still alive and well. I still receive several journals and blogs from conservative COC preachers and groups. On the 6th, I received a short article titled, “Change is the Battlecry.”

    In the short article, the author stated:

    What I find curious about the cries for change is the fact that the kind of change some are demanding will destroy our distinctiveness, the very characteristic that has brought growth to the Lord’s church through the years. Why is it that some of our “learned” brethren want to compromise the truth, soften our positions on doctrinal matters, and apologize for our exclusiveness?

    A few years ago, I wouldn’t have blinked an eye at many of the demonstrably false conclusions in this short paragraph:
    -“Distinctiveness” is the mantra. The vary small size of the COC is held up as biblical proof that we are the one, true church. Distinctiveness “within Christendom” is held as a mark of biblical authenticity. “We” are new-Israel and the “denominations” are the nations, rather than “Christians” are the new-Israel and “worldly nations” are the nations. It’s also compensation for the fact that broader Christendom tends to dismiss out-of-hand so many of our coveted arguments.
    -The author can’t seem to fathom a reality in which one may disagree with our arguments. On the contrary, anyone who disagrees must “want to compromise truth.”

  19. Dwight says:

    I have been looking into the sect called the Pharisees. The word Pharisee means “ones who are set apart” as they were set apart from the people and other religious sects.
    It appears Kevin that the ones who are arguing for not “apologizing for our exclusiveness” are in reality “not apologizing for their sectarianism” either.
    The Pharisees thought they were superior to all other religious groups and the truth is that in some way they might have been in some ways in regards to the law, but they also looked to the law so much that they added to it, because they thought it was the right thing to do and all in all it was their pride which Jesus hated.
    They were self righteous as a group.
    “be not like the Pharisees” and “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees” was directed to the people so that they could avoid the group think and religious attitude as well as the practices of the Pharisees.

  20. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Dwight,
    I agree. The more you shine a light on our arguments and group-think, the more you are reminded of the Pharisees: adding to the Law, emphasis on distinctiveness, arrogant, sectarian, self-righteous…

  21. Monty says:

    Few there be that enter in, gives hope to the small struggling dying congregations where exclusivity is a virtue that must be held at all costs. For after all, we know that by that same measure we judge others we will be judged. If we judge others lost for holding to a teaching or point of doctrine we don’t hold then if they are lost for wrongness on that point then of necessity we have to be right in every point. One misunderstanding, no matter how simple on their part or ours means to be almost but lost. Grace is only for matters of moral failures, and not for pure hearted lovers of God who simply don’t see it the way we do.

  22. Alabama John says:

    Grace and mercy is extended by God to all who do not get things just right for lack of mental ability.

    On that we all agree.

    That alone might be the salvation for many that argue and point at others faults to condemn. That sure hits home with me.

  23. Jeff Richardson says:

    Remember The words of Jesus in John 3, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” In every act of conversion we see people “obey” the gospel. Just believing that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died and rose again is not obeying the gospel. The demons believed as much and who here would say that they were saved? In Acts 2 the question is asked, “what MUST we do?” Peter instructed them in HOW to respond or “obey” the gospel message. Saul was instructed to go into the city and there it would be told to him what he MUST do. He prayed for days, but that was not enough, Ananias told him what he MUST do, “arise and be baptized .” Jesus didn’t tell Saul to pray, invite Jesus into your heart and say a sinners prayer. No where in scripture do we ever hear anyone telling anyone to do such a thing. So with scripture we can rightly conclude that, that is a false doctrine and it puts no one INTO Christ. The idea that those who are saved are then baptized to show an inward faith is also a false doctrine and should be treated as such. Jesus in John 12:48 tells us that it is HIS words that will judge us all. Peter instructs us as to the reason for baptism, it is for the remission of our sins the blotting out, the washing away of. Any other reason for baptism is being baptized for the wrong reason, thus you haven’t “obeyed” the gospel. And yes you must understand why your doing something, it’s called coming to the knowledge of God. So, when a person is baptized because they believe they are already saved, that is not obeying the command to be baptized. All they have done is obeyed a perverted form of the gospel.
    There’s been talk here of other groups. Where did all these “other groups” come from? Eph 4 teaches us about one faith, one body. Christ promised, built and died for only one body, HIS. All others are imposters. What right, what authority does anyone of us have to change the gospel message? Which by the way includes the whole of the new covenant, the new testament, the gospel system, the body of teachings of Christ through the Apostles. The death, burial and resurrection of Christ is the heart of the matter but not the end. That is the “grace” of God, or what God has done for us. We have to respond in some way, we have to receive this message. Did God leave it up to us in how we respond? No, God is very clear and we can see it clearly IF we want to. If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died and arose again, are you willing to repent/change, are you willing to confess Him as Lord and savoir, are you willing to allow yourself to be baptized/immersed in water FOR the remission of your sins? if you are you will be IN Christ, where all spiritual blessings are found and added to the Lord’s body the church by God himself. Any other plan of salvation is false and comes from the mind of man.
    I have to ask, what does it mean to believe in and follow Jesus? How can I reject His plan and say that I believe in and follow Him? The people of Matt 7:21f come to mind. Do you suppose that they believe that Jesus was the Son of God, died and rose again? I do. Yet Jesus NEVER knew them. The only conclusion is, these people believed that Jesus was the Son of God. One would have to believe that these people were not willing to follow Jesus in His commands, trusting and obeying. They sought to follow Him their way, therefore Jesus rejected them, because in reality, they had rejected Him. They honored Him with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him. We are saved by grace trough faith. Faith is our part, how do we get faith? “faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God.” Rom 10:17.

  24. Dwight says:

    Jeff, it appears you are teaching the “doctrine of baptism”. You do realized that baptism is a part of the plan, just like repentance is, faith is, confession is, etc. They all point towards Christ…this is the doctrine of Christ. Even in Acts 2 when they asked “what must we do?”, Peter said “repent and be baptized and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”. This is what we all believe, but let’s be clear Peter taught them about Jesus, not baptism. Their response of faith, led to their response of repentance and baptism and confession, etc.
    You say, “Jesus didn’t tell Saul to pray, invite Jesus into your heart and say a sinners prayer.”
    I don’t know of any one here that even suggest that this is the way to Christ, alone.
    I think you have this blog confused with other blogs as no one here rejects baptism and whole heartedly promotes it.
    Let’s see we must obey by being baptized, but if we believe are saved by Jesus and are baptized we aren’t obeying and aren’t saved?
    I used to think this way, but it doesn’t make sense, since you believe in Jesus and are baptized into Jesus the same. The only way this works is if you don’t believe that Jesus saves. The reason they were re-baptized in Ephesus is because they were baptized into John, not Jesus.
    What you then teach is “pointilism” or that there are certain points that define salvation, but the scriptures never seek this goal or point to this. In fact when we see baptism, we also see it paired with faith, confession, repentance, etc and vice-versa. The scriptures never place the whole weight of salvation on baptism.

    You say, “There’s been talk here of other groups. Where did all these “other groups” come from?”
    So are you arguing that the church you go to is the only church that will be saved, even among the churches you might have a same name with, which I assume is the coC? You see God sees the people in the church as headed by Christ, he doesn’t see groups, because even a coC group might be wrong.
    When you say, “Christ promised, built and died for only one body, HIS. All others are imposters”, what you are really saying is “YOURS”.
    Because there are actually groups out there that wear no name, that meet on Sunday evening and do the Lord’s Supper around a table where the women have long hair and the men short and don’t pair the offering with the Lord’s Supper (as we have examples in the scriptures) and you would have nothing to do with them. In fact you would probably have nothing to do with the early churches either as they didn’t have a coC plaque on their doors and they practiced differently. In some ways our self-righteous exclusiveness is probably excluding us from the body of Christ, just at the Pharisees did.

    In the last paragraph, you are preaching to the choir, but I want you to notice something in it…you didn’t mention baptism in relation to following him, but you did mention “saved by grace through faith.” So have you rejected baptism? I don’t think so, but let’s think about this, if I read that to someone and they said, “I want to be in Christ, baptize me into Christ, the Son of God and the savior”. You would have to reject them, because they didn’t say the magic words “I understand that this baptism will save me”. And we must also state accordingly “and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”, which I have heard many baptism in the coC where they didn’t say that.
    And then you are arguing that grace and faith saves, not baptism, even though you will also argue that grace through faith” leads to baptism, which really saves you, as the others don’t? Again you have made baptism the point and hinge of salvation. The bible doesn’t speak like that.

    Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the father but through me”, which will result in faith, repentance, confession, baptism, more faith, more repentance, more following, etc. All of these above are needed and are equally important, but Jesus is the most important. We don’t believe on faith, or confession, or baptism…but we believe on Jesus. Then we follow in doing the rest in obedience. Simon was baptized and was in jeopardy of damnation because he desired sin, he was called on to repent, which he did, which also saved him.

  25. Jeff Richardson says:

    My point Dwight would be there are those who comment here that believe that they were saved before baptism and they were then baptized to show heir faith. This idea is false. Peter told them what they must do, therefore he taught them baptism. Belief, repentance, confession and baptism all go together, one without the other, leaves one void of being obedient. Being obedient to the gospel involves being baptized for the remission of your sins. All of these things are the doctrine of Christ. Yes Christ is the focus, Christ is the one we believe in. But at some point a man will ask, what must I do? Do we simply say, believe in Jesus and you will be saved? Or do we teach them what it means to “believe” in Jesus? And yes, only one body will be saved, those who gladly receive the word of God and obey the gospel, those who believe, repent and are baptized for the remission of their sins, and live faithfully unto death. These are the ones who have been added to the Lord’s church, these are the only ones who will be saved. We only read about one church/body in the new testament. Where can I read about the Baptist, Methodist etc? They are not there, they are creations of man’s mind. “Pointilism”? Yes there is a certain point in which man becomes an heir, a son, adopted, a child of God. It is after we believe, repent, confess and are baptized for the remission of our sins, where we are raised to walk in newness of life. It is after baptism when our sins have been washed away. It is at this point that we are IN Christ. It is at this point it can be said we “believe in Jesus.” At this point we can see that indeed we are saved by grace through faith. Or in other words, our faith in Jesus is seen by our obedience. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power unto salvation. Jesus indeed saves, The mere fact that He was the perfect sacrifice doesn’t save anyone, man must respond. What must man do? Believe, repent, confess and be baptized. Baptism is the final act that puts us into Christ. Before baptism, you must first hear the gospel, believe what you hear, be willing to repent, confess his name. Do these three things but reject baptism for the remission of your sins, you have not obeyed the gospel. I get the feeling Dwight that you are ashamed of the church in which Jesus built and died. It is Jesus Christ who has made His church exclusive. He, which has all authority has given us the terms and condition upon which one may enter. I nor you have the right to disagree. The good news is, all are welcome, but everyone must enter through the narrow gate.

  26. Dwight says:

    Jeff you are confusing two thoughts 1.) that believe that they were saved before baptism and they were then baptized to show heir faith. and 2.) Do we simply say, believe in Jesus and you will be saved?
    2) suggest that faith is all that is needed without obedience, which is wrong.
    1) suggest that one can believe they are saved by faith in Jesus and then obey, which is faith in action of which faith saves.

    Your argument should also include Peter’s statement of “and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” to be complete. If one must know that they are saved at the point of baptism, they must also know they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and must understand what that gift is. The problem is that I know many preachers who although arguing one point will admit that their belief on what the gift is has changed. Surely they must need to be re-baptized, because they weren’t baptized with the correct understanding.
    You see the thing is that they were told that if they do would do one thing they would get something, actually two things, or maybe it was just one (if the gift was salvation).

    In some ways I hate the term salvation, as the thought actually entails saved by a savior/deliverer. The Jews understood that God was a deliverer. Salvation was on the part of the one who saves. This was true of the Jews in Egypt all the way through. Even though they understood that one must be a Jew to be a children of God, and there were methods to do this, they still related salvation not to them becoming a Jew, but to God, the savior.
    If we relate this to baptism, then in our thinking the conversion to being a Jew saved them. No, it just put them into a covenant relationship with the savior who would save them. But if they thought they were a Jew, before their circumcision, then were circumcised, were they negating their circumcision and being a children of God?

    This reminds me of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, in which the Grinch tried to steal Christmas by stealing all of the gifts, only to find out that Christmas came anyways. In this case we are trying to make salvation dependent not on who they are baptized into, but into what they are baptized into, as if that will stop what has been promised them upon their belief, confession, repentance and baptism and living all in Christ.

    You mean, “It is during baptism when our sins are being washed away, right? Surely salvation doesn’t happen after baptism, but during baptism.

    You said,’The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power unto salvation. Jesus indeed saves, The mere fact that He was the perfect sacrifice doesn’t save anyone, man must respond. What must man do? Believe, repent, confess and be baptized.”
    Which we all believe.
    What you though have to change is “Believe (in Jesus), repent (to Jesus), confess (Jesus as Son of God and Savior) and be baptized (into the belief that baptism saves).

  27. Dwight says:

    Jeff, let me respond to “I get the feeling Dwight that you are ashamed of the church in which Jesus built and died. It is Jesus Christ who has made His church exclusive.”
    By asking which church are you referring to?
    If by church universal that all saints belong to, the only thing we are exclusive from is the world.
    If by church you mean the coC, then this exclusive thought is sinful. We are not as an entity exclusive and if so, then we are what is called sectarian. The Pharisees were exclusive from others and were called on for that, they were sectarian as a group. Jesus nor the apostles ever taught exclusiveness as a group, even when there were churches in different towns that were behaving less than stellar and were having troubles. Corinth being one.

    I am actually very proud of the church, which is the people, of which I am a member and of which Jesus is the head, but the congregation I go to has had some rocky patches in its history, because it is made up of people who sometimes do bad things. I don’t know of any congregation that is perfect and if so, then it is exclusive from all other churches, even the coC churches. There are some coC’s that believe in the right “understanding of salvation” that also believe they are correct and that any “conservative” church that sees themselves as having members that will have issues and will occasionally sin, is apostate. Thus to them they are exclusive and 95% of the coC in conservative coC are apostate. They don’t believe that I John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” applies to their congregation as that no Christian will sin. They are exclusive to everyone else who doesn’t meet their standards.

    The “narrow gate” we often refer to is often our church.

    We enter through Christ into the church, not through the church into Christ.
    There are many congregations out there who believe in everything we do in the coC, but have no name, have the Lord’s Supper on Sunday evening around a table in their house, so would you consider them part of the church?
    Or perhaps the bigger question is because they actually are closer to the actual examples in the scriptures, why should they consider your church part of theirs.

  28. Dwight says:

    It occurs to me the Pharisees were exclusive and sectarian because they were self-righteous in their assessment of themselves as a group. They thought all other groups were below them and even the people in terms of righteousness.
    In reality Jesus had some harsher words to say about these people in judging others, than he did the people the Pharisees condemned and the general public.
    The sad part is that we in the churches have a line between us and other churches driven by such things as “denominationalism is a sin”, “taking on the name of a man is sinful”, when the scriptures never argue this and if so, then we are all sinning as we are all a denomination (name of Christians under hierarchy of Christ) and Israel and Judah was sinning (as it should have been “El-ians” or “YHWHians”. We are our own worst enemies. We find the speck in our neighbors eyes and refuse to acknowledge the plank in our own eyes.

    Jesus and the apostles taught unity among the people and humbleness, because all people sinned and were under grace and not on some separate tier. If there was a hierarchy, first shall be last and the last shall be first, it wasn’t on this earth, but in heaven and it was dependent upon love and servitude to others.

  29. Jeff Richardson says:

    I have had the pleasure of baptizing a few people. After hearing their confession, that Jesus is the Son of God, I then said, I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for the remission of your sins. Not once did I say, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The reason is, they won’t. We see the phrase ‘gift of the Holy Spirit” only twice in the new testament. Acts 2:38 and Acts 10:45. In 10:45 we can clearly see what “the gift” was, it was miraculous abilities. Gifts given by the laying on of hands of an Apostle, as in Acts 8:16,17.
    The church universal is the body of believers worldwide. They all belong to the same body, they are of the same mind, follow the same rule. They all entered through the narrow gate, they all obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ and were added to the Lord’s church by the Lord Himself, Acts 2:47. He didn’t put some in the Baptist church, some in the Methodist church, some in the Catholic church. He put them in HIS church. And the reason why we know this is because they didn’t exists. So to be apart of something that God didn’t create is sinful. We can be a part of His church, if we comply with His terms and conditions, He will add us to it. The body of the saved. If I comply with some man made plan of salvation, join a man made organization that is called a church, We will be just like those of Matt 7:21f. Christ will say depart from Me, I NEVER knew you. And by the way, I don’t have a church, I didn’t build or die for anyone. But Christ did, why wouldn’t I search out that one, instead of a man made one? And who am I to say these man made churches are on par with His. I cant and I won’t. But Dwight you seem to be willing. You seem to forget that Christ is not divided. I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, or for us it would be, I am of the Catholics, I am of the Baptist.

  30. JohnF says:

    Jeff, Those you baptized likely received the gift of the HS even tough you did not mention it. You see, God’s grace often overcomes our own short sightedness. I would ask you to restudy your understanding of the HS. That study is outside the scope of this discussion. . . . but look at these passages:
    “Full of Holy Spirit”
    Luke 4:1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led about by the Spirit in the wilderness
    Acts 6:3 “But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.
    Acts 6:5 And the statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.
    Acts 7:55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he (Stephen) gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;
    Acts 11:24 for he (Barnabas) was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord.

    “Filled with (Holy) Spirit”
    Luke 1:15 “For he (John the Baptizer) will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother’s womb.
    Luke 1:41 And it came about that when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
    Luke 1:67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:
    Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
    Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people,
    Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
    Acts 9:17 And Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
    Acts 13:9 But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze upon him,
    Acts 13:52 And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
    Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,

    There were numbers of believers who were “filled” or “full” of the Holy Spirit who did not receive (from the New Testament record) what we would normally call “the miraculous measure of the Spirit”, among them John the Baptizer, Elizabeth, Mary (mother of Jesus), those present at Acts 4:31, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas.

    It is a grave misunderstanding to equate “miraculous” with being “full” or “filled” with the Spirit. Paul certainly did not ask of believers to do that which was impossible.

  31. Dwight says:

    Yes, JohnF, that is exactly right. I have actually grown in the conservative coC up being taught that the “gift” of the Holy Spirit is the security or promise of salvation and I know many who teach and believe this. And I know many in the conservative coC who believe that the gift is the Holy Spirit itself, but not in a miraculous measure, but that the essence of the Holy Spirit now dwells in the converted man, just like God does (you are know a temple I Cor.3:16). And I know many, like myself, that believe that it is the Holy Spirit itself, which secures the promise.

    Acts 10:45 never uses the word “gift”.
    If you are correct Jeff, then those baptized, not having the laying on of hands, received the gift just as the apostles did earlier in the day and were able to speak in tongues, etc.
    But we see in Acts 8:18 Simon was baptized and yet didn’t receive the miraculous “gifts” of the Holy Spirit, which he later tried to buy.
    In Acts 19:5 the Ephesians were baptized, then Paul laid his hands on them “the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.”
    The “gift of the Holy Spirit” thus must not be THE GIFT as passed on through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (twice happened) or the laying on of hands.

    So I go back and ask the question: If a person has been baptized without the understanding that they will receive the “gift of the Holy Spirit” as we read in Acts 2 along with “for the remission of your sins” were they actually saved?
    And do they need to know exactly what the “gift” is to be saved?
    I know many preachers in the coC who vacillate between the gift as the Holy Spirit itself and the gift as salvation, sometimes arguing that both occurs, but if they don’t know, are they saved?

    This means that you Jeff, have baptized a few people, but they have not been saved. And it means you have even taught others that they will not receive what the text plainly says they will?
    This is by all accounts blasphemy as it is a rejection of the Holy Spirit’s capabilities!
    One cannot seriously argue one part of Acts 2:48 “remission of sins” that must be understood for salvation to occur and not argue “the gift of the Holy Spirit” must be understood as well.

    Jeff, “And who am I to say these man made churches are on par with His. I cant and I won’t. But Dwight you seem to be willing.” OK, you aren’t willing to say that these churches who practice more correctly than you do are not on par with His? Hmmm. How can you be sure you are part of the church that God made if you are sub-par? And if they are more on par with His how can they be man-made?

    “You seem to forget that Christ is not divided. I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, or for us it would be, I am of the Catholics, I am of the Baptist.’
    Jeff, you do realize that in I cor.1:12 it says ““I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” So just because you say I am of Christ or wear the Christian label or the coC label, you are sectarian accordingly if you use it to separate from others wearing different names.

    All of this comes down to the fact that just because we say something doesn’t make it true.
    God places and determines who is in His church, not us and the list of names is in heaven. We have no say in this of who is in and especially who is out. If they are baptized into Christ, they are in Christ (Eph.19). We cannot make things up in order to create a dividing line and we must accept our own faults as well.

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