This is in response to Cougan’s comment from Tuesday. The answers are too long for the comment box (and writing as a post is much easier on my bifocaled eyes).
I wish you would email me when you decide to abandon the thread we were in and open up a new one.
It’s a shame that you aren’t keeping up with the other posts on this site. They bear on the questions were are discussing.
One thing we have agreed on so far is that the “plan of salvation” is a good place to start from. However, you have problem with terms “Plan of salvation” and more so with “Pattern.”
Hebrews 8:5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”
God had a specific way He wanted the tabernacle built, and He had a specific way He wanted things laid out. He even had specific ways He wanted things done by certain people. To follow God’s commands on this was to follow the pattern.
To give one N.T. example:
2 Timothy 1:13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
As I said near the beginning of our conversation, “pattern” is used in different ways in the New Testament, and I can’t agree or disagree with what you say about a “pattern” unless you tell me which way you are using the word. So long as you use it in the 20th Century Church of Christ teaching sense, no, there is no such pattern, and it’s very wrong to teach that there is one.
One use of “pattern” is found in 2 Tim 1:13, which you quoted. There “pattern” refers to Paul’s body of teaching. Obviously, we are to honor that pattern and obey the commands he gives us.
But another use of “pattern” is found in Heb 8:5, where “pattern” refers to an effort to gain salvation by replicating God’s perfect pattern. The writer’s point is that it’s impossible for obedience to such a pattern to save, and so God has provided us a superior way through Jesus.
The writer says that the “copy” is not good enough — because it is made according to the pattern rather than being the pattern itself. In other words, he says that although God’s law is perfect, because we can’t obey it perfectly, we cannot be saved by our obedience.
(Heb 9:10-11) They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings–external regulations applying until the time of the new order. 11 When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation.
The tabernacle and its rules had to be replaced, not with a worship service with new rules, but with a perfect tabernacle in heaven perfectly worshiped in by a perfect high priest with a perfect sacrifice.
(Heb 9:10) They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings–external regulations applying until the time of the new order.
Part of the problem with the Law of Moses was the use of “external regulations” to gain salvation. External regulations about how to worship are a sign of a carnal, failed system.
The solution is found in grace —
(Heb 10:10) And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
(Heb 10:13-14) Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
The writer’s contrast is between a system where salvation is sought through obedience to external regulations and the sacrifice of Jesus — which makes believers “perfect forever” and holy “once for all” even though they are only “being made holy” — but not yet fully holy.
This is the continuous salvation that you argued for in an earlier comment. So long as we remain true to our faith and true to the repentance with which we began, we remain saved.
Thus, if we seek salvation through pattern-keeping, we’re relying on an inadequate, failed system. But should we follow Paul’s teachings? Of course. After all, he also warns us against seeking salvation by works (Gal 1-5).
And so, yes, follow the pattern. Yes, obey. No, don’t seek salvation through following a pattern. Find salvation in Jesus.
Then why obey? Well, because the Spirit has changed your heart to be an obedient heart, and because you love God, and because of your gratitude for your salvation, and because you find joy in obedience, and because you agree with the will and heart of God, and because you made a commitment, and because you can’t bear to pile more sins onto the crucified Jesus, and because you’ve been saved.
But obedience doesn’t save. If you don’t want to obey, going through the motions is of no value to God at all. Having a heart of obedience, though, shows that you are still being led by the Spirit and still saved.
But get this: if you want to obey because obedience is essential to salvation, well, you aren’t obeying out of love for God. You’re obeying to avoid hell — that is, to save your own skin — that is, out of love for self.
The solution isn’t commands — it’s a changed heart. Or as Paul says,
(Gal 6:15) Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.
(2 Cor 3:18) And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
(2 Cor 5:17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
But the conservative Church of Christ creed is that we must discern a list of rules so long that they cannot be listed and obey them — and that getting the rules wrong damns. And this is seeking justification by works rather than faith — and it’s another gospel.
Obedience is holy. Having a heart that wants to obey is essential. And an obedient heart will lead to obedience. But obdience doesn’t save. Jesus saves, through faith, by grace.
Therefore, we absolutely cannot declare those in the independent Christian Churches damned for their use of the instruments — unless the one making that judgment is willing to have his salvation judged by every single rule.
(Gal 5:3-4) Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
Oh, and this explains why I feel it’s essential to explain how we are saved after our baptism the same way that we’re saved at our baptism. The conservative Churches presume that the rules change — so that the amazing grace we receive at baptism is parceled out only occasionally thereafter — depending on how often we pray for forgiveness and how well we pray for forgiveness. And that contradicts the Galatian epistle — not to mention the Romans epistle.
The great lesson of the 5 Step Plan of Salvation is not that there is a “pattern.” The lesson is that the incredible grace given us by God through Jesus at our baptism is given to us even more generously — much more generously — after we’re baptized, so long as we remain penitent believers. And that’s a far more important lesson than whether to call it a pattern.
A simpl[e] question would be, “how can a person be baptized for the forgiveness of sin, if they do not know that is for the forgiveness of sin?
I hate to sound curt, but the answer is “for the reasons stated in my book Born of Water” (free download). I can’t believe that you’ve only read my book well enough to see whether you disagree with me — but not well enough to know the answer to my question. There’s a whole chapter on the subject.
If you’re not interested enough in my opinion to read it there, you won’t be interested enough to read it here. I can’t say it any better here than I said it there.
And it’s very unfair to lampoon what I say when I agree with such men as David Lipscomb and Alexander Campbell. You can’t credibly claim to know your subject if you’ve not studied both sides.