Muscle & Shovel”: Chapters 39 – 40 (Faith in the Plan and the Bible; Wrap Up)

muscleshovelWe are considering Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel.

Faith = the Plan of Salvation?

Back in chapter 35, Shank writes,

The Bible definition of faith is belief, repentance, public confession of belief that Christ is God’s Son and baptism for remission of sins into Christ Jesus. This plan is Bible faith.

(Kindle Locations 7171-7173).

The Plan of Salvation = faith? And so faith is believing in the Plan of Salvation? Our faith is in a Plan — not a man? Not Jesus? It’s in the product of our exegesis? It’s in a teaching method? We’re saved by believing that believing saves?

This is nonsense. It’s a logical absurdity and dramatically moves Jesus out of the center of our Christianity and replaces him with a Plan.[1]

It’s not a question of whether the Plan summarizes certain scriptural truths or is a great teaching tool for the unconverted. It’s whether the Bible ever defines “faith” this way — and it does not.

New Testament faith — the faith that saves — is faith in Jesus. The only conceivable motivation to replace Jesus with the Plan as the object of our faith is so that (a) we can claim that the several “everyone with faith will be saved” promises found in scripture include water baptism as a requirement and (b) we can insist on faith in the effectiveness of water baptism to remit sins as a requirement to be saved. And these results conveniently damn most believers in Jesus outside the Churches of Christ (and it’s just so tempting to reach beyond the sacred page when it means beating the Baptists). But there is zero support for this theory in scripture.

And this theory changes the object of faith from Jesus to what we dowe repent, we believe, we confess, we submit to baptism for the right reason. Thus, rather than being all about Jesus, it’s more about the fact that we figured out the Plan.

The Plan was first taught by Walter Scott, a friend of Alexander Campbell and a missionary sent out by the Mahoning Baptist Association — an association of Baptist Churches that allowed Campbell’s church to join despite its non-Baptist views. And under Shank’s theory, no one had been saved before that date — going back, I suppose, to something like the Second or Third Century.

It’s really hard to hold to the theory that the Churches of Christ have continuously existed since Pentecost while also contending that “faith” is the Plan of Salvation as expressed by Walter Scott for the first time in centuries. (Both Campbell and Scott concluded that Scott’s understanding of how one is saved had not been taught for centuries, likely back to nearly apostolic times.)

And yet what Scott taught is subtly but importantly different from Shank’s teaching. Scott’s “Five Finger Exercise” was

faith, repentance, baptism (the sinner’s response to the gospel); remission of sins, the Holy Spirit (God’s gifts of grace).

In short, Scott taught a more balanced teaching that wasn’t entirely about what the convert was to do. It was also about what God does. But over the years, the Churches of Christ dropped God’s promises and added “hear” and “confess” so that the Plan of Salvation became entirely human centered — and it’s this human-centered version that Shank calls “faith.”

Perhaps the ultimate (but not the only) proof text against Shank’s theory is, ironically enough, Mark 16:16 (the authenticity of which is uncertain, as previously explained, but Shank builds his arguments on this verse) —

(Mar 16:16 ESV)  16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

“Believes” is πιστεύσας (pisteusas), that is, a verb form of pistis (faith). “Believes” could be equally well translated “has faith.” English does not have a verb form of “faith” and so we often use “believe” in our translations.

Obviously, if “faith” includes baptism, Jesus was unaware of that fact when he uttered this verse.


(Act 8:12 ESV) 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Under Shank’s definition, the Samaritans were baptized twice! ) Once when they “believed” (pisteuo or “came to faith” — same word), because “faith” includes baptism, and again when the text says “baptized.”

(Act 18:8 ESV)  8 Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.

Shank has the same problem with the conversion of the Corinthians.

If Shank would just stop reading his tracts and instead read the Bible, he’d quickly realize that “faith” in the New Testament is always faith in Jesus, and is not a “plan” but a state of the heart. “Faith” includes includes both trust in Jesus to keep his promises and a commitment to be faithful to him. This is what the Greek word pistis means, as shown earlier here and here.

And the object of faith is Jesus —

(Rom 3:21-22a ESV)  21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it —  22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

What is “faith”? Faith in Jesus Christ.

(Rom 3:26 ESV)  26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

What is faith? Faith in Jesus.

(Gal 2:15-16 ESV) 15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners;  16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

I’m still looking for the verse that promises salvation to those with faith in a Plan.

Chapter 40

Here he says something else that disturbs me greatly. In going through the Plan of Salvation — hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized — he teaches “believe” this
way —

Believing. God’s Word must be believed with the entirety of the heart and mind.

(Kindle Locations 7817-7818).

No! “Believing” is the verb form of “faith” — and faith is always in Jesus. I’m all about accepting the Bible as true and authoritative, but the Bible is not my Savior. The Bible was not crucified for me. And faith in the Bible does not save. (And this is from the second edition of his book — meaning that it had been proofread after readers had pointed out needed corrections.)

I’d far rather that a friend err as to the Sinner’s Prayer than the object of his faith.

Now, I’m not for a second arguing against the witness of scripture! Heaven forbid! But we do not confess our faith in scripture or in baptism. We confess our faith in Jesus as Lord and Messiah — and we seriously distort our understanding of the scriptures when we center our Christianity on anything else.

(Joh 5:39-40 ESV)  39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,  40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

It’s not good enough to seek salvation through faith in the Bible or baptism. Moreover, it’s utterly contrary to the scriptures to seek any confession other than a confession of faith in Jesus. The scriptures point plainly and repeatedly to Jesus. And Jesus says that the path to eternal life is to “come to me” — not to the Bible and not to baptism and not to anything else.

You see, this over-emphasis on baptism ultimately leads to replacing Jesus with the Bible as the object of our faith. Because we believe the Bible, we believe that baptism remits sins, and upon our confession that baptism remits sin, we’re saved. No need for Jesus except to mention his magic name to qualify for baptism. After all, it’s not as though we might have a personal relationship with Jesus, who was willing to die on a cross for us.

Thus, when we ask what must be believed, instead of simple faith in Jesus, there’s this tendency for the answer to be “the Bible” or “that baptism remits sin” — but not “Jesus is Lord” (Rom 10:9) or “Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). We confess that when we get up in front of everybody, ready to be baptized, but if we’re not careful, we’ll think the power of that confession is found in baptism or the veracity of scripture, not the sacrifice of Jesus.


[1] This misunderstanding is hardly unique to Shank. In 1952, K. C. Moser famously challenged the tendency  of many within the Churches of Christ to prefer the “plan” to the “man.” He’s been widely criticized for his views, even declared “apostate,” but he has proved to have foreseen an increasingly explicit turn toward redefining “faith” to suit conservative Church of Christ debating points against the Baptists in preference to the scriptural teaching regarding the nature and object of our faith.

Moser wrote in Christ vs. a “Plan,”

Instead of a “plan” Christ is preached.  Jesus is set forth as the Son of God who became man’s Savior, not because he was given authority to name certain acts as conditions of salvation, but because he “bore our sins in his body on the tree.”  This type of preaching, therefore, puts the emphasis upon the redemptive power of the blood of Jesus.  A real Savior is one who furnishes the cause of man’s salvation, not merely one who determines, by virtue of his authority, the conditions of salvation.  The Messiah is not only a teacher and king, but he is preeminently the sin offering. And it is his death on behalf of sinners that makes him the Savior.

The law of Moses placed man under the obligation of perfect obedience.  Hence by the law none is justified. But Christ brought, not another code, but his “precious blood.”  And by it sinners are redeemed.  Our iniquities were laid upon him, and “with his stripes we are healed.” Nothing like this ever happened before, nor will it ever happen again.  Sin left man condemned. Christ bore his sins and offers him mercy.  Salvation from sin is the direct result of what Christ did on the cross for sinners.  He did not die in order to do something else that would make him the Savior.  The Father proposed to redeem the world by means of the death of his Son, and the Son willingly laid down his life for us.  Both the Father and the Son, therefore, regard the death of the Son as the ground of salvation.  Christ crucified for sinners is the divine “plan” of salvation.  Sinners must look to Christ to save them, not to their own human achievement.

(emphasis in original).

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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64 Responses to Muscle & Shovel”: Chapters 39 – 40 (Faith in the Plan and the Bible; Wrap Up)

  1. Johnny says:


  2. Price says:

    JOHN 3:16… Where’s my rainbow colored wig…..

  3. Shank’s conclusion, however ungodly, proud, and miserable, is pretty much all you can retrieve once your God is gone.

    In the conservative CoC world, Jesus left in a cloud and no longer interacts with men. The Holy Spirit never did have anything to do with us, but was sent to the Eleven/Twelve/Thirteen for the purpose of having them write a new legal code, and to do a few miracles to confirm that code. Once the first drafts of this new law were on parchment, the Spirit also departed, never to return. In Shank’s CoC, the Father does not interact with us, with the exception of rare and arbitrary and unsigned responses to prayer. In the words of Don McLean, “They caught the last train for the coast” and left us with a small assortment of first century writings. The old saw about “Father, Son, and Holy Bible” is actually an understatement, the Bible having absorbed the functions of Father and Son as well as those of the Spirit. Revelation and power of the Creator is limited to the pages of the Bible, we are led and guided by the Bible only, and we are saved by conformance to a Plan we dug out of the Bible instead of by the Son of Man. And to add a dash of human pride to this theology, Shank tells us the only power we have to follow this book is our own effort and intellect.

    In the absence of the Godhead, the Bible becomes all the god they have – a “god substitute”. It is all of God these brothers have really ever known. It is to be expected that they would put their hope in it, and direct their reverence to it. In a rewrite of the angelic song, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Holy Bible”. Actually, the closest biblical analog one can find to this level of spiritual reverence being given to something that is not actually God is the worship of graven images God forbids in the Second Commandment.

    I appreciate Jay slogging through this little book of rank heresy, exposing a Christ-less gospel, a humanistic life of rule-keeping and impending judgement, and a doctrine of damning every believer who thinks differently from us in any significant way. At the very least, I hope this effort exposed that which Shank’s shovel is full of.

  4. laymond says:

    Jay said, ” New Testament faith — the faith that saves — is faith in Jesus. ”

    (me) Jay can you please expound on what ” faith in Jesus” means to you.

    Lets look at what the bible says about who Jesus is, first off we start with Jesus being a dedicated “Son of God” .
    God takes this dedicated Son and at baptism, turns him into “the Word of God in flesh” What did this “Word of God” to be, say just before he was baptized. “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” and later said this ” why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say” ?

    (Jay) “It’s not good enough to seek salvation through faith in the Bible or baptism. Moreover, it’s utterly contrary to the scriptures to seek any confession other than a confession of faith in Jesus.”

    (me) I don’t know how you can have faith in one, without having faith in all.
    If you don’t believe God had a plan of salvation for the Jews, and Jesus was part of that plan, I don’t know how you believe any part of the bible.
    Jay how did you gain faith in Jesus, without having faith in the bible? Jay, do you believe Jesus’ blood and death would have had any effect on man’s sins if he had not been part of God’s plan?

  5. Jeff says:

    How miss guided you are Jay Guin. Don’t you all realize that the giver of any gift has the right to put conditions on that gift. yes its free, un-merited, but conditions can be put on it. That’s exactly what God did. Believe that Jesus is the Son of God, repent of your sins, confess His name as Lord and savior. Allow yourself to be baptized in His name for the remission of your sins and live faithfully unto death. That’s what Jesus meant when He said, come unto Me. We come to Jesus in humble obedience. An obedient faith saves. Faith, causes us to act. We like those in Acts 2, must ask that age old question, “what must I do”. If we don’t act, if we reject the answer, where is the faith? Your type of faith would include the demons would it not? They knew for a fact, that Jesus was the Son of God. But yet, they didn’t act on that faith. Some will say well those are works and works can’t save you. I agree, works of man can never save you, but these are works of God. Works that God has devised, conditions that God has placed upon our reception of His grace. Now when we consider any other form of obeying the gospel, forms that cannot be found in scripture, we , to be honest must conclude that they are works of man, works that man has devised, such as asking Jesus into your heart to be your personal Savior and saying a sinners prayer. We must obey that form of doctrine that was delivered. When we do, the act of baptism, puts us “into Christ”. Nothing else will do that. Thanks Jay, your review in the Chronicle has given me at least two weeks of class room material, we discussed Christians who have fallen from grace. may God help you in returning to sound biblical teaching.

  6. laymond says:

    Charles, it is very easy to declare someone else to be in error, yet not give an option to accomplish their goal. That is established rhetoric of the republican party, “Obama care is bad” but they give no plan of their own to take care of the sick. At least the conservative church has a plan, a step by step plan. And it seems the progressive plan is “do nothing” am I wrong if so please give your step by step plan to salvation.

  7. Wow, Jeff! Who are you to say that Jay has fallen from grace??? Maybe you should read all of his material and come to understand what his position actually is before firing shots like that at someone. That attitude is the reason the C of C is dying.

  8. arkie55 says:

    Chapter 17 of Jack Deere’s book, Surprised by the Voice of God, is titled, “Confessions of a Bible Deist”. It is well worth reading…

  9. jeff says:

    Brent, I have read much of what Jay has said, especially his thoughts on “muscle and a shovel”. He is perverting the gospel of Jesus Christ. The church is in trouble, I’ll grant you that. The reason is there are a lot of people who have infiltrated the church and seek to change her. Making Her into something that Christ has not authorized. By the way, it’s not up to me, the bible can speak for its self. Brent, don’t you think its rather arrogant for anyone, to say its the man not the plan? To accept Jesus, is to accept His plan, don’t ya think? How can I say I accept the man, but I reject His plan. You can’t have one without the other. God’s grace is the plan.

  10. Price says:

    Arkie…. like Jack Deere a lot… good book !!
    Jay… water off a duck’s back…LOL..
    Jeff… I think you confirm what many of us believe…that the CoC is dying from the inside out.. Whitewashed tombs…

  11. Grace says:

    “Your type of faith would include the demons would it not?”

    That argument gets old and is not the what James is saying.

    James was saying the demons believe there is a God. Just as there are people who believe a set of facts about Jesus, but show no evidence of their faith.

    James is talking about having evidence that we are saved. It’s not to show God that we are saved, He knows who belongs to Him. James said, “I will show YOU my faith by my works.”, our faith is evident to those around us by the works we do, that His Spirit lives in us.

    We have faith relying on Jesus that His sacrifice is sufficient to save us. We are saved by His grace that comes through faith relying on His sacrifice offered to God, the perfect sacrifice. The demons don’t have faith in Jesus as we do.

  12. arkie55 says:

    Paul wrote that the gospel he taught the Corinthians was that: Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; that he was buried; and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures. This, he wrote, was of first importance. This is the gospel, the good news, that what the scriptures foretold has come to life in the person of Jesus, as attested by his resurrection! This simple statement has indeed been perverted – but by whom?…

  13. Laymond, I am not a Republican, so I can’t assuage your political angst, but as to delineating the way to eternal life, I can do that. And I have been doing it for a long time. All I had to do was to seek Jesus’ input on the matter and it was really quite simple. Is one sentence too much? Jesus said, “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.” A Man of salvation, not a plan of salvation.

    Now, this is not all Jesus ever had to say about having eternal life. But it is a direct unqualified categorical statement, made to real people in real time by the only One on the planet with the authority to speak in first person on the subject. This statement is either true or it is not. There has been some wrangling about this statement, but I find more people simply dismissing it than discussing it. But there are some alternative possiblities being offered regarding this statement:

    1. It was true when Jesus said it but the rules have now changed. This was a limited time offer only to Jews before the cross. This, of course, places Jesus himself under the authority of our dispensational interpretations, and subjects His words to an expiration date. I compare this sort of amateur lawyering with the authority of the Lord of Heaven and Earth and find it unworthy of a serious response.

    2. It was only partially true, that is, Jesus’ statement was true as far as it went, but there was more to it than Jesus said here. Had Jesus told his audience that a believer might NOT have eternal life just yet, and that Peter and Paul and James would be along later to complete the revelation, that would support this idea. As Jesus did no such thing, the group he was talking to at that time would have been misled as to the whole truth, and Jesus would have been the one misleading them. Since Jesus IS The Truth, this is hardly possible.

    3. It was never true. Jesus is only a part of the revelation of salvation and his words cannot be treated as independently reliable outside their contextual position in the New Testament. This makes the Bible our Savior, and Jesus merely one of the people widely quoted in the text.

    So, Laymond, as Jesus is The Truth, I have to take his words at face value. The one who believes HAS eternal life. Already. And has crossed over from death to life. Already. And will not be condemned. Jesus is adamant here to the point of redundancy. I think He means what He said.

    As believers, there is much we are called to do. But these are expectations that a Father has of his sons, not things we do in order to become sons.

  14. Jeff says:

    To Charles Mclean, I would assume by what you have written, that you are a fellow who believes he is led personally and directly by the Holy Spirit. Because you seem to have little need for God’s inspired, revealed word. Do you not believe Hebrews 1:1f? Do you not believe John 1:1f? Without God revealing Himself to us through his devine book, we would know nothing about Him. Romans 10:17 says, “faith come by hearing, hearing by the word of God.” The pages of the old covenant led us toward Christ. The pages of the new covenant reveal the Christ. Its not that the Bible is my God, its my only way of knowing my God. I also believe that God continues to work, through His providence. My point would be, when, how or even if He is involved there is no way for me to know. I can trust in what He has done, what He said he will do, that I can have faith in. Many seem to like a world where “feelings” are what they follow. Feelings are fickle and cannot be trusted, but the word of God can be. Lets also remember, in the first century when the Spirit was very active, He was revealing God’s message of salvation to man. Would you not agree that we have that message? That the faith has been once and for all delivered? That it has been confirmed? I hope so, because that is exactly what the Bible says.

  15. As to what James said about the demons believing there is one God… I think Jesus was aware of this before James was. I appreciate Grace posting the nature of the demons’ “belief”, which most omit rather pointedly– as it renders the passage useless as a proof text arguing against salvation by faith.

  16. Lots of errors in understanding here, too many to address in a comment section. “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” I am no more or less personally led by the Spirit than were Phillip or Stephen. The Spirit is no less active today than He was then. The idea that we can do the will of God on our own hook and under our own power is the very idea to which the cross gave the lie.

    I grew up on the scripture, Jeff, and hold it as inspired and trustworthy and reliable. Far more so that what men have later done with it. But its purpose was never to replace following Jesus with following a plan about following Jesus. Its purpose was never to replace the real-time personal guidance of the Spirit with a book of His writings. Thankfully, the Spirit continues to reveal what is of Jesus to us, just as Jesus promised. I am thankful for the Bible, as ALL of it reveals Jesus, but it is not all of God’s revelation to us and it never claims to be.

    The issue here is not unlike what arises in the discussion about baptism. Another brother here insists that if I don’t take baptism exactly as he takes it, then I must reject baptism. Which is like saying, “If you don’t like my mom’s apple pie, then you just don’t like pie!” Silly. And presumptuous. Here, Jeff insists because I see the bible differently than he does, that I have no use for that Bible. This is a non-sequitur. I encourage people to move the Bible from a place that belongs to the Trinity to its rightful and useful -AND LESSER- place in the lives of the believers. Jesus is the Word of God; the Bible is words from God. The Bible is given to us by the Holy Spirit, not instead of the Holy Spirit. I will continue to ask that we try to grasp these crucial differences.

  17. laymond says:

    Charles, I see your “Very truly I tell you” and raise you 10.

    Jhn 3:3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
    Jhn 3:5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. .
    Jhn 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
    Jhn 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.
    Jhn 5:25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.
    Jhn 6:47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.
    Jhn 6:53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
    Jhn 8:51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”
    Jhn 13:16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
    Jhn 13:20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”
    Jhn 14:12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

  18. Jay Guin says:


    In today’s post, I challenged two statements by Shank — that “believe” in the Plan of Salvation means “believe in the Bible” rather than “believe in Jesus” and that Biblical “faith” means the Plan of Salvation.

    You have not attempted to defend either of those claims by Shank. If you could have, I’m sure you would have.

    Therefore, I consider you to have affirmed my own disagreement with Shank as to these points. Thank you. But if I’ve misunderstood you and you think Shank speaks biblical truth as to those two points, please say so.

    Now, while I do not believe that I am saved by faith in baptism or that baptism was crucified for my sins or that baptism is my Savior, none of those things means that I don’t believe that we should baptize those who come to faith in Jesus (“faith” being here defined properly per my earlier posts and not per M&S; I trust you’ve read my earlier posts and so I don’t need to revisit this question).

    Moreover, I believe that remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and a host of other blessings are normatively received at the moment of water baptism by the power of the death of Jesus on the cross. I just believe that God makes exceptions — as Acts 2, 8, and 10 plainly demonstrate.

    I have no idea why you take me to oppose baptism other than the fact that I have stated that God will not damn those who are improperly baptized but who have faith in Jesus (as properly defined).

    I do not agree with the Baptist teaching on baptism. If you want to dispute with someone who approves the Baptist doctrine of baptism, there are many Baptist blogs around. But their view is not my view. I just happen to use of the verses they like to quote, among others, but my conclusions are not the same as theirs.

    But today’s topic is Shank’s claims regarding the definition of “faith”. I would be very interested to know whether you agree with Shank as to his claims.

  19. Jay Guin says:


    I can believe that God has a plan and not make that plan the object of my faith. I “believe” that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow, but I don’t expect the sunrise to be my Savior.

    “Faith” in the scriptures is defined, not as anything to which we happen we give intellectual assent, but as our attitude toward God and Jesus. Abram “believed” and it was credited to him as righteousness. For Abram, faith was trusting God to keep his promises, so much so that we lived faithfully (imperfectly but faithfully) in reliance on those promises, in confident expectation that even centuries after his death, God would keep his word.

    Was there a plan? Yes, God made a unilateral covenant with Abram that has changed the course of human history for centuries, all because God has a plan.

    But Abram’s faith was in God to keep his promises, not in the promises but in the maker of the promises. Biblical “faith” has a person as its object.

    Just so, the authority we credit to the Bible is actually God’s authority executed through the Bible. We submit, not to the Bible, but to God — our Father. We fear God. We worship God. We do not fear or worship the Bible. But the Bible is indeed holy and sacred — because it is of God.

    Contrary to many Protestant creeds, my faith does not begin with scripture. It begins with God. I believe in God and therefore I submit to his scriptures and consider them true and reliable — because my God is true and reliable.

    By my not making the scriptures primary, I avoid confusing who/what I worship and who/what is the object of my faith. And this corrects a huge problem in certain circles of Christianity.

    I’ve taught Christian evidences or apologetics many times. And I find the extra-biblical evidences overwhelmingly affirming of the nature and character of God. Just as the Corinthians came to faith in Jesus without the need for a New Testament, the same holds true today. The Bible is a God-given, inspired look into the heart of God, but it’s entirely possible for people to come to faith without it. It happens in the mission field every day.

    Sometimes, the testimony of a person who lives his life walking with God is more convincing to a lost soul than the entire text of scripture — because, by the power of the Spirit, a life lived in God is from God.

    Hence, the New Testament points us toward a particular person: Jesus. “Faith” in the NT is faith in Jesus. More precisely, it’s that Jesus is the Christ/Lord. And when we read of the conversions in early Acts, the theme of the sermons is that Jesus is the Messiah. These are truly gospel sermons, and they say nothing of plans of salvation and say 100 words about Jesus for every 1 word about baptism (at least). They unwaveringly point toward Jesus as Messiah, his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension — that is, who Jesus is and what Jesus did is the emphasis of true gospel preaching.

  20. Grace says:

    Jay, you speak about those of us who believe we are saved by God’s grace through faith that is before baptism, you speak about those of us who have been baptized with the Great Commission Jesus gave. You say we have “imperfect baptisms or faulty baptisms, flawed baptisms and improper baptisms” as you like to put it in so many of your posts.

    Btw, you always pit the Baptist camp against the CofC camp in many of your posts also. Christians don’t have to be in the Baptist camp to disagree with CofC theology.

    Since you want to describe our baptisms as “imperfect, faulty, flawed and improper”. Please define why our baptisms with the Great Commission Jesus gave are baptisms not as good as yours.

  21. Dan Harris, Birmingham says:

    Wow, Jay. You have immense patience. God bless.

    And on another subject entirely….. Rachel Held Evans has had some wonderfully thoughtful material lately.

  22. Skip says:

    Jeff said, “God’s grace is the plan”. Actually God’s plan is the Man. Grace is extended in allowing us to seek the savior and have a relationship with him. The savior is a person, not a plan of salvation. Jesus didn’t come to the earth to give us a plan, he came to give us himself. How much better is that.

  23. Skip says:

    Grace said, “Btw, you always pit the Baptist camp against the CofC camp in many of your posts also”. I won’t get too much into the use of your word “always” but suffice it to say you are exaggerating considerably. I have read Jay for years and he is an equal opportunity challenger. He doesn’t constantly single out the Baptists to make his point. Perhaps you need to read many more of his articles to see where he is really coming from.

  24. Grace says:

    I’ve read many of Jay’s posts for years, something you obvioulsy did not know. And I said he always pits the Baptists camp against the CofC camp in many of his posts, not all of them. Don’t read into something you think is implied that is really is not. I see Jay’s use very distasteful of our Baptist brothers/sisters in many of his posts, as if their studies are not as good, many who have just as many years of study and more resources than the CofC denomination and Jay himself.

  25. Jay Guin says:


    The Baptists are not my audience and not the ones I feel called to speak to. I believe what I’ve repeatedly said about baptism, which is not the same as what most Baptists believe. I don’t believe that they are damned by their error. I believe they are my brothers and sisters in Christ, just as are those in the Churches of Christ who err in their baptismal theology. We’re all saved by grace, especially me.

    I tend to agree with much of what David Platt, a Baptist pastor, has said in criticism of the Sinner’s Prayer as often practiced — not that I see Platt’s questioning as somehow vindicating the Churches of Christ. It does not. We all need to do better. Too many short cuts on both sides — and it tells in the fact that both denominations are in numerical decline.

    Quick and easy marketing-inspired conversion methods will not work with young people any more. They’re not impressed, whether we sell Christianity as a quick and easy trip to the baptistry or a quick and easy prayer. When we softsell our Lord, we do no one any favors.

  26. Grace says:

    I’m sorry, you didn’t really reply to my comment, you just changed the subject to a preacher yelling about what has been happening from the beginnig since God made man, sinners who need a Savior calling out to Him.

    Now, back to my comment you didn’t give a reply to.

    Since you say our baptisms are “imperfect, faulty, flawed and improper”. Please define why our baptisms are not as good as yours.

  27. Larry Cheek says:

    Would you describe which one of the Baptist baptisms you want compared to scripture? Baptists have not established a one for all baptismal proceedure.

  28. Grace says:

    Read my comment, I did give one that my Baptist friends and myself are baptized with, the Great Commmsion Jesus gave.

    Now, since Jay says our baptisms are “imperfect, faulty, flawed and improper”. I will wait for Jay to define why our baptisms are not as good as his.

  29. laymond says:

    foundation of faith
    Jay said, “Contrary to many Protestant creeds, my faith does not begin with scripture. It

    begins with God. I believe in God and therefore I submit to his scriptures and consider

    them true and reliable — because my God is true and reliable.”

    Jay, I believe all true faith has to begin with knowledge of God, and the scriptures are the

    only means by which we gain that knowledge.

    Jay said, “The Bible is a God-given, inspired look into the heart of God, but it’s entirely

    possible for people to come to faith without it. It happens in the mission field every day.”

    Act 17:22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I

    perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
    Act 17:23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this

    inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare

    I unto you.

    Jay, if we send missionaries out without the knowledge of the scriptures, we send them on

    a fool’s errand. If the mission is not to bring knowledge of the true God, to the ignorant,

    knowledge gained through scriptures, how do we know what they have faith in? Sure we

    can tell them of all the great things God has done for us, but what comes next “who is this

    God” a natural reaction and how do I get me some of that. If not for the scriptures we

    could only say, well we don’t really know, but we know he is there, trust us.
    Our first belief is in the scriptures, no matter how we (modern man) gain the knowledge of

    the true God it comes through the bible.

  30. Jeff says:

    Jay, I understand that Jesus is and should be the focus, the emphasis. That He through His sacrifice is the redemptive power. We must come to know and believe this. Romans 10:17 says. “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”. In order for me to believe in Jesus, to have biblical faith, I must believe in what the bible says, the two can’t be separated. By the grace of God, God has provided a way for man (the plan) to be reconciled to Him. James points out that “faith” without works is dead. A simple acknowledgement that Jesus is the Son of God is not faith, its simply a statement. Faith is an action word, we must act upon our simple belief. We do so through humble obedience. God has placed conditions upon our reception of His grace. By faith, we believe that those conditions must be met and we follow through in obedience to them. What kind of faith is it, that says, I believe in Jesus, but I reject His plan of salvation? That’s not faith at all, its rebellion and disbelief. I believe that Michael Shank is correct in what he was taught and what he teaches. Also to skip, I agree, God’s grace was the sacrifice of His Son, but without a plan for us to be redeemed that sacrifice would mean nothing to us. The mere fact that Christ died on the cross, shed His blood for me, would be meaningless unless I could come into contact with its saving power. Read Romans 6, Col 2 for the answer. We must believe in the plan, that’s where our faith begins after we have come to believe in the Christ, they can’t be separated.

  31. Skip says:

    Grace, I can’t speak for Jay but I can answer your question: “When are baptisms ““imperfect, faulty, flawed and improper”?”
    When the recipient hasn’t made Jesus Lord of his/her life. When the recipient is not old enough to grasp the concept that Jesus is Lord and Savior. When the recipient is baptized because other friends are being baptized. When the recipient has not repented of sin. When the recipient views baptism as a mere ceremony on a church check list. When the recipient is being baptized to please their parents….
    Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3,4; Colossians 2:12; and I Peter 3:21 paint a picture of what we ideally should understand entering into baptism.
    I understand we are under God’s grace and that not everyone that has become a Christian fully understood the meaning and purpose of baptism. But there should be a minimum understanding of this sacred act that Jesus commanded.
    Do you believe that a baptism is imperfect when the recipient hasn’t repented nor made Jesus Lord nor understands why they are being baptized?

  32. Skip says:

    Jeff said, “We must believe in the plan, that’s where our faith begins after we have come to believe in the Christ, they can’t be separated.”

    I am slightly confused. Are you suggesting that our faith begins with a plan? Are their scriptures that say we must believe in the plan?

    I would suggest that we believe in Christ and accept the plan. I don’t put my faith in God’s plan. I don’t believe in God’s plan of salvation – I do submit to it however.

  33. Grace says:

    I don’t believe baptism is salvic. I believe baptism is a symbolic act we do that points to Jesus our only Savior, who sacrificed His blood on the cross, who declares me innocent by His act of taking the punishment I deserved. It is by God’s grace through faith that His act of sacrifice is the only perfection that I can stand before my God as innocent.

    You gave a list of what you think Jay is saying about those of us being baptized as “imperfect, faulty, flawed and improper.” You say Jay is saying that we were baptized and “hasn’t made Jesus Lord of his/her life. When the recipient is not old enough to grasp the concept that Jesus is Lord and Savior. When the recipient is baptized because other friends are being baptized. When the recipient has not repented of sin. When the recipient views baptism as a mere ceremony on a church check list. When the recipient is being baptized to please their parents.”

    I don’t believe Jay was painting every Baptist and non-CofC denomination baptism as such when he said our baptisms are “imperfect, faulty, flawed and improper.” But if you want to say that about those of us that Jay was talking about, that is your opinion about us.

    Now, since Jay is who says our baptisms are “imperfect, faulty, flawed and improper”. I will wait for Jay to define why our baptisms are not as good as his.

  34. “In order for me to believe in Jesus, to have biblical faith, I must believe in what the bible says, the two can’t be separated.” -Jeff

    But Jesus did not hold out a NT to the Jews in John 5, when he spoke of eternal life. Were these folks saved on a different basis than you and I? They could not believe in Acts 2:38 or Mark 16:16, or Romans 10:9.. nor even Acts 20:7 or Romans 16:16 or 2 Tim 3:16. But Jesus assures his audience that if they believe “the one who sent me”, that they have eternal life. We seem to have concatenated a long string of additional passages which must also be embraced as though in those passages we might have life, and that without them we cannot be saved.

    Now, if one wants to insist that one must believe what the Bible says about who Jesus is, there’s a good argument to be made there. Peter’s confession says nothing about baptism, but it does reveal Jesus as the Christ. The Ethiopian does not repent per se, but what he says about Jesus reveals his faith in who Jesus is. One who believes that Jesus is who he says he is –not understands entirely, mind you, but believes — expresses that which Jesus says is indicative of eternal life.

  35. Skip, while I don’t disagree with your observations, Jay does rather seem to suggest that God’s grace is available for the flawed or imperfect baptisms of others. Now, relative to traditional CoC teaching, Jay’s acknowledgement is liberal and almost dangerously gracious and will certainly draw fire from a substantial portion of the CoC. But looking at it from Grace’s position, it reads as a bit superior. I think Grace is simply asking if a CoC baptism is not generally considered “imperfect”, while baptisms by another group are more likely to be “imperfect”. And if so, why?

    It is not unlike the “grace” some of my CoC brothers are starting to exhibit as they fellowship in real ways with some independent Christian churches. To my CoC brothers, this is celebrated as a giant leap forward, something of almost historic moment. But to those of us outside that clan, it looks entirely different. We see a portion of one percent of the church throwing open their arms to welcome another one percent of the church, while the remaining 98% of us still stand outside the party, wondering if it will be another hundred years before the CoC decides that a few more of us might be worthy of their ecumenical embrace.

    Sometimes, the view really depends on where you stand.

  36. laymond says:

    Charles why did you not comment on all my “Very truly I tell you” maybe you would like to go one on one so I will just ask for a comment on this one, for now.

    Jhn 3:5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. .

  37. Grace says:

    It’s actually to ask Jay, who he is to say our baptisms are not as good as his, who is Jay to put these labels on our baptisms, where in the Bible does Jay get these labels he puts on our baptisms?

    Jay speaks about those of us who have faith in Jesus and have been baptized with the Great Commission Jesus gave.

    Since Jay wants to describe our baptisms as “imperfect, faulty, flawed and improper”. I’ve asked him to please define why our baptisms with the Great Commission Jesus gave are baptisms not as good as his.

  38. Jeff says:

    Skip and Charles, Christ is the plan. God offered His grace to mankind, not only by sacrificing His Son, but He loved us enough to provide us a way (the plan) to be saved. If I was sick, went to the doctor, but didn’t believe in his plan for a cure, I probably wouldn’t take his advise and not follow through. Could I then say, I have placed my faith in the doctor? I don’t think so. By faith I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ. By faith I believe that I need to repent and change course. By faith I believe that I need to confess His name before men as my Lord and Savior. By faith I believe that baptism is necessary to have my sins washed away, where I am raised a new creature that is now in Christ. By faith I believe that I need to worship Him acceptable, and live my life according to His will, which can be Charles, found on the pages of the New Covenant. By faith I teach Jesus, Him sacrificed. By faith I teach His plan of salvation, not what I think, not what I rather, but His plan. By faith I believe that He is coming back. By faith I believe that if I remain faithful unto death, heaven will be my eternal home. Faith in action. Charles, do you not believe those words spoken in Acts 2:38, or Mark 16;16 etc? Those words, those commands were spoken by inspired men. They have been recorded for us. We have received the same message as those people. We, either accept or reject them. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God, Peter never said, please turn to Acts 2:38. But he did speak those words. He taught that message. When those who believed asked, “what must we do” Peter said repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord. Those who gladly received his words, were baptized and God added to the kingdom, those who were being saved. Now Charles where else will you get that message, unless you read your bible or someone teaches you concerning what it says, you will never hear the truth or be able to obey it, unless that happens.

  39. Skip says:

    Jeff, the difference between a doctor and Jesus is that the doctor writes a prescription to follow. Jesus said he was the prescription… Jesus said, “I am the bread of life”. Jesus said ” Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you.”

  40. Alabama John says:

    As laymond said, who they ignorantly worshipped as an unknown God, Paul declared unto them and that was the real God.

    Mankind can look and has looked at nature and its unfathonable wonders created by God and know there is a God in change. It doesn’t take a bible or anything written, just open eyes and look and think about how all this came to be.

    The bible explained and told us the good news in writing as Jesus did by speaking and doing miracles, but God was known to exist, by all, way before that.

    Did the men at Mars Hill all go to hell for worshipping God in error and certainly having some things wrong out of that ignorance? I think not as their heart that will be read by God will judge them as only God can see the heart of man and not only his writings.

    WE better hope and pray hard that God will judge the heart and its intent instead of our obedience to the law since we just might be as wrong on many things as the ones on Mars Hill were and I’ll wager we are just as wrong and maybe more, especially those that think and teach like they know it all so we should follow them.

  41. Jay Guin says:


    One of the best books ever written on baptism is Baptism in the New Testament: by Baptist scholar G. R. Beasley-Murray. Highly recommended.

    He reviews the many baptism passages and concludes that God has designed baptism to be the moment when he saves the convert and gives his Spirit — but he does not believe that a flawed baptism damns. Thus, if a Baptist convert believes himself already saved pre-baptism, he is in error but God nonetheless saves. Hence, I’m in agreement with one of the greatest living Baptist scholars on baptismal theology.

    I find his reasoning persuasive, although he does not present a detailed argument why baptismal error does not stand in the way of salvation. But in terms of a critique of Baptist baptismal practice, this is a 432-page scholarly work from within the Baptist tradition has been widely praised for its insight — and it’s a great read.

    Many of his arguments are familiar to Church of Christ students who, of course, have been reared on the baptism verses — but unlike many in the Churches of Christ, he does not require a theologically pristine baptism for God to save. Amen.

    What’s wrong with Baptist baptismal practice? Well, I attended a Baptist Easter production — and before the production, those present were invited to close their eyes and raise a hand if they want to “invite Jesus into their hearts.” And with no more instruction than that — BEFORE the Easter story was told! — those who raised their hands were announced anonymously saved — with no teaching about who Jesus is, what he has done, that he is the Messiah, or that inviting him into our hearts includes penitence and submission to Jesus as Lord. I mean, there was no requirement that faith in Jesus as Messiah and Lord be confessed — nor what any such thing taught. Just the magic words, “Invite Jesus into your heart.”

    Therefore, based on that limited experience, I find the critique by David Platt — a Baptist pastor and author of Radical — to be sound —

    But as I said, the Baptists are neither my audience nor my calling and my experience with Baptist baptismal teaching is very limited. Nonetheless, it’s nearly universal among Baptists to teach that salvation precedes water baptism, and I disagree — but with the caveat that God will save all with faith in Jesus in the end.

    And I find the Church of Christ notion that Baptist baptism is ineffective to be anti-gospel and divisive. And I reject the false teaching of some in the Churches of Christ that the “gift of the Holy Spirit” is eternal life. Converts certainly receive eternal life, but they also receive the personal indwelling.

    Both denominations would do well to study the works of Baptist scholar Beasley-Murray — which many have done and are doing.

  42. “Christ is the plan…” -Jeff

    Jeff, if you really do not discern the difference between a recently-concatenated string of scriptures someone calls a “plan of salvation”, and the actual Lord of Heaven and Earth, it is beyond my capacities to be of service to you. I am sorry.

  43. Jeff says:

    Charles, how do you even know there is a God? If we didn’t have the bible, all we could do is assume. Skip, God did write a prescription, its the plan of salvation. If followed it will save us. Or are both of you saying, because Christ died for all men, all men are therefore saved?

  44. Jeff, from your question, one would assume that the bible predates God, else how would mankind even know God existed? Again, I apologize for not being useful to you. I can discuss logical assertions, can reason out rational arguments, and can even -eventually- see the logical errors in my own thinking. But there is simply not enough in your posts to allow me to approach them in this manner.

    But as to your question, it would be unkind of me not to try to give you an answer. The best I can do is to offer you someone else’s: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

    As to the Bible, Jeff, I accept the validity of the scriptures by faith. And I have the righteousness of God by that very same avenue. “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” The Gospel predates the New Testament, and thus they can hardly be the same thing. I accept what I see in scripture because I believe it is from God… NOT the other way around.

    One’s God should always be larger than one’s book about God.

  45. Skip says:

    Jeff, you haven’t read my comments carefully. Christianity is not a prescription. JESUS is the cure. Procedures aren’t the cure. Prescriptions aren’t the cure. I understand I need to repent – in order to have a relationship with Jesus but repentance isn’t salvific – Jesus is. Same can be said for baptism.

  46. Jeff says:

    Skip, Yes, Jesus is the cure. Now what? I desire to follow Him. How can I do that if I don’t have instructions? In Acts 2, peter preached the first gospel sermon, some were pricked in their hearts and asked, “what must we do”? Did Peter say, well just put your faith in Christ. No, Peter instructed them in what they must do, repent and be baptized. Those who gladly received those instructions, followed the instructions and God added them to the kingdom, those who were being saved. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news, It is the plan for Him to reconcile you to God. If I reject that plan, have I accepted Jesus? Charles, Hebrews 1:1f is very important here. God has always spoken to His people. He has always advised them in what His will for them is. He spoke to the fathers, He spoke through the prophets, in these last days He has chosen to speak to us through His Son. What a wonderful advantage we have, we have God’s will for us in written form. Unless God communicates with me, I would have no idea about anything spiritual. God has chosen in these last days to communicate with me and you through His Son. John 1:1f the word (Christ) became flesh and dwelt among men. Skip, if I were to ask you, “what must I do to be saved”, what would your response be?

  47. John, your reading of Hebrews 1 conflates “His Son” and “God’s will for us in written form”. You hop from one to the other in consecutive sentences as though they were one and the same. This is a grave error; an error which leaves us in spiritual infancy, with no hope of “growing up into the Head”, as all we can hope to grow up into is greater knowledge about the Book. That this distinction is lost on us is the main evidence of our immaturity.

    As God speaks to us now by His Son, what has the Son SAID? Have we forgotten, now that we have the Bible? Have we forgotten that the Word of God is not the Bible, but that the Word of God is Jesus? Has Jesus said, “Here is God’s will in written form?” Or has He said:

    “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

    It does us little good to have the Father give His revelation to the Son if we are simply going to relegate his words to the past and allow a book about God to become our only authority when the Lord God of heaven and earth has been given all authority… Himself.

  48. Grace says:

    “God has always spoken to His people. He has always advised them in what His will for them is. He spoke to the fathers, He spoke through the prophets, in these last days He has chosen to speak to us through His Son.”

    This is a very poor statement to make, “in these last days He has chosen to speak to us through His Son.” in that Jesus chose to speak before He came to walk the earth.

    Who do you think spoke in the Hebrew Scriptures about His salvation that is for all believers since the beginning of man?

    Jesus was not non-existent before He came to walk the earth? Jesus has always been and has spoken throughout all time.

    Jesus spoke to people long before He came to walk the earth.

    Exodus 3:14 God said to Moses, I Am Who I Am. So say to the Israelites, I Am has sent me to you.

    John 8:57-58 You aren’t even 50 years old! the Jewish opposition replied. How can you say that you have seen Abraham? I assure you, Jesus replied, before Abraham was, I Am.

  49. Grace says:

    That’s the problem with many in the CofC camp is they don’t see a Savior who can save beyond their theology. A Loving God who speaks to all mankind since the beginning of time that we are all nothing but dust, and there is nothing and no one greater than the Great I AM. We can dive into the Pacific Ocean and it is nothing compared to what He did dying for us on the cross. God says to believe that it is only by His sacrifice we can be saved, and to so many that is just too scary to really believe.

  50. Skip says:

    Jeff, Please reread my previous statement. I think it was clear. Of course we respond by repentance and baptism but a) we can respond to a formula and or b) we can grow in love with a savior. I choose the later.

  51. Skip says:

    Grace, The quote by Jeff , “In the last days he has spoken to us by his son” was not made up by Jeff. This is a scripture in the N.T. Heb 1:2 “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son”. Probably just an oversight on your part.

  52. Grace says:

    I use different translations, with some translations you don’t always get what is really being said, looking at other translations can be truer to the text than when you go by a single translation.

    Hebrews 1:1-2 Going through a long line of prophets, God has been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries. Recently he spoke to us directly through his Son.

    The word “directly” brings out a better sense to the text. In the recent time when Jesus walked the earth God spoke “directly” through Jesus, there was no other intervening or means of God speaking to people.

  53. Some impose exclusive language on this text that is not there. The fact that the Father now reveals himself through his Son does not exclude any other revelatory method. When God began to send us prophets, did God then reveal himself only through those men and stop revealing himself to anyone else? When God began to speak to us through his Son, did this kill off the prophets? (Hint: John continued his ministry after the baptism of Jesus.) And did God stop speaking through his Son the day of the Ascension? I think not. Hebrews 1 is not given to tell us exactly how God is NOT speaking, but to remind us that He CONTINUES to speak to us as He has always been faithful to do.

  54. Grace says:

    Amen Charles!

  55. Jeff says:

    Charles, your response to John, when Jesus said, “I have more to say to you, but you can’t bear it now….” Jesus was speaking directly to the Apostles. They received the promise in Acts 1. Through the Holy Spirit the Apostles were directly given what they needed. They received that which they earlier couldn’t bear. Through the Spirit, Jesus continued to teach them. That’s why and how they were inspired men. Through inspiration they could continue to teach about Jesus and the Kingdom. All of the New Testament was recorded by inspired men. It was recorded for all of us who would come after them. Without the bible we couldn’t know God’s will. In that sense it is very important, it is our guide to spiritual maturity. Grace, It is Christ’s theology that I seek, I can only know it by knowing and understanding what He has left for me, the bible. We all have instructions, the same instructions and they can be found in God’s word. he has revealed it to us.

  56. Rick Griffis says:

    So much of COC theology seems to be based in their opposition to “anything Baptist”. What is the origin of this?

  57. Jeff, your description of “inspired men”– does it reach beyond the men in that room, the ones who were going to miss Jesus? Certainly Paul was not among such a number, neither by history or geography or in any other fashion. If the promise of “inspiration” was limited to that local audience, then we are going to be left with a canon of two gospels, six apostolic letters, and a prophetic vision. Mark, Luke and Paul were not part of that Eleven. If one interprets the teaching of the Holy Spirit to be only to the local audience –the ones whom Jesus was leaving–and not to the rest of us, he is going to have to put Paul over here among the rest of us unwashed. If, OTOH, Jesus’ promise extends further than that room, there is nothing in Jesus’ words that would preclude this blessing from any believer. If one wants to create an unspecified middle group which would include the anonymous writer of Hebrews in Jesus’ promise, but not you or me, he had better offer far better proofs for such a theory than I have seen.

  58. Jay Guin says:

    Rick asked,

    So much of COC theology seems to be based in their opposition to “anything Baptist”. What is the origin of this?

    I can’t say for sure, but here are some pretty good guesses —

    1. The Churches of Christ and Baptist are very similar in many ways. Most congregations of either have members who grew up in the other denomination. And we humans tend to exaggerate the differences of those most like us — in an effort to keep the flock from leaving for the other and so no one thinks we’re really nearly the same.

    2. A huge portion of early “converts” to the Restoration Movement, esp. the Campbell wing, came from Baptist Churches, esp. in Kentucky. It was once said that “Raccoon” John Smith, famous early RM preacher, had emptied nearly every Baptist Church in Kentucky. Again, when so many of our members and preachers came from the Baptists, there’s a natural tendency to justify the decision to leave by emphasizing our differences.

    Just so, I think that the Churches of Christ in the early 20th Century had great success “converting” Landmark Baptists who were growing unhappy with the direction of the Southern Baptist denomination away from creedalism. Again, it’s just natural to preach sermons designed to defend your decision to leave.

    3. Once we decided that Baptists are all damned (1930s and later), the Baptists became our most fertile mission field, since we only had to persuade them on baptism and instrumental music and weekly communion. So much easier than having to teach Jesus. And so our “mission” methods focused on debates against Baptist teaching.

    4. Around 1890, Austin McGary founded the Firm Foundation to teach the insufficiency of Baptist baptism, splitting churches across the country. And once you’ve split a church for the right to claim Baptists are damned, well, that becomes a defining position that you keep preaching on — to revisit the “victories” of the past and to justify the decision to split.

    5. Baptist Churches tend to be bigger and richer than ours. And in better locations. Envy is no small part of the tension.

  59. Grace says:

    You may be the only Bible some people will ever read

  60. Arthur says:

    To Jay, Grace, and Charles,

    I stumbled across this blog because I am seeking something more edifying to do during my downtime at work, and for the discussion and topic I am grateful.

    I was sincerely converted to Jesus out of the godless world at 15, and 95% of what I’ve known about God comes from the coC. Since then, I’ve recently come to identify what I see as inconsistencies in interpretation leading to what some have called “legalism” and am widening my interpretation to (hopefully) handle the Word more accurately. This has drawn me away from some of the dogma towards a more ecumenical position. All that to say, I can see and understand almost all of the points Laymond and Jeff have made.

    What I am having a hard time reconciling is this: if Jesus is the “cure,” and He is our only means of salvation, how do we interact with Him through faith without necessarily doing the things Jeff and Laymond have discussed?

  61. Athru, welcome!

    I think you may be making a similar mistake that a few others are making in reading my views. I do not exclude from my life such things as baptism and repentance and the confession of Christ and obedience to the Father. All of these I have done and/or continue to do. I simply distinguish between believing in the risen Christ and doing these other things as well. Faith produces the works God has intended for us, and thus it must precede them. Saying that one is saved by faith is NOT to exclude the practice or the importance of baptism, no matter how many times people accuse me of it. Unfortunately, there is a custom among some of us where we insist, “If you don’t believe everything about X exactly the way I believe it, then you don’t believe in X at all!” This, of course, is not true, nor even reasonable. But folks sometimes act as if it is.

  62. Jay Guin says:


    You’re commenting on a post that’s nearly a month old, and Jeff and Laymond said several different things in the several comments there. Can you be a little more specific about “the things Jeff and Laymond have discussed”?

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