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The title of this article was taken from an article that I wrote below entitled “Baptismal Regeneration (BR) Reduced To Absurdity”. Since, even though it is denied by CoCers with the use of semantics, BR is one of the foundations of the CoC, I thought the title would transfer over great.

This post will be mostly text of debates between myself and several CoCers. To that simultaneous series of debates, this response was posted by a commenter named Ex-CoC, they said,,,,

“This is the most helpful information I have come across, I am a former coc, and have had doubts and confusion on the teachings. All the people who posted pro coc just made me feel a whole lot better I was far away from the lot of you. Damon you could afford to be a little more polite, I think but thanks at least I now know I wasnt crazy.”

I responded to Ex-CoC with,,,,

“Hi xCoC,,, I am glad it helped you visiting this site. let me give ya a couple of links I think you will like then I will tell ya why I will not try to be more polite to CoC’ers.

There is a brand new ex-coc book out that I found yesterday. Here is a sample

LINK HERE

Here is where you can buy the whole thing.

http://www.authorhouse.com/Bookstore/ItemDetail.aspx?bookid=53683

This ex-coc member (he has a great site HERE) is right when he says,,,”The Church of Christ denomination uses four main tactics in debating their pet doctrines. These tactics are generally used by all cultic groups. They are: 1. Change the subject 2. Take scripture out of context 3. Straw man arguments 4. Ad hominem attacks (attacking you instead of the issue).

I am lacking in politeness for a few reasons. But the most prominent one is that the CoC will use trollish tactics (meant just to get an emotional responce) and disregard the basics of logic and Logical Interchange (discussion). AND for those who have not had the pleasure of debating CoC for years as I have. People do fall for the twisting of Scriptures and sometimes it gets tough having to exchange with several people at once who’s only objective is to make you look bad and the CoC as the only one true church. AT ALL COST!!! and BY ANY MEANS!!

After all I am not on a CoC blog attacking them. They are guest here and will run no one over on my watch,,, especially me.. lol :)

The author of the above site says,,,”Scripture twisting is an art form that the CHOCD has mastered. The only other organizations that do it any better are the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons…which is nothing to be proud of.”

I have to politely dissagree. :) The only cult I have more exposure to than the CoC is the Mormons. I have debated “Paid Mormon Scholars” and they are not as bad as the regular CoC folks,,, much less “CoC Scholars”.

What follows is highlights of several debates that went on for weeks. Many comments, of which there are 67 in total, where left out of this post for space and times sake but all the different exchanges can be seen here. CHURCH OF CHRIST CULT by David J. Stewart. These debates contain links to many other CoC articles I have written, so even considering this post is very very long,, it will be worth your time if your a seeker,, or interested in what the CoC teaches and how they debate doctrines,, this will be worth your time to read,,, at least ex-CoC thought it was worth his time.

The first exchange is with “Efrem Williams”. After several post refuting Eframs attempts to set paramteters for the debate in his favor,, I first started to biblically address what Efram said with…….

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Have you ever heard that phrase “The ONE TRUE CHURCH” before?

If You have,,, it is most likely that you heard it from a cult member or cult group. ALL cults say they are the “one true Church” (referred to as OTC hereafter). All cults have 3 things in common. 1. The all have distorted teachings about God, specifically Jesus and the Trinity. 2. They all employ a teaching and culture of legalism. And while they may give lip service to “salvation by grace”, they apply a system of salvation by works. 3. They all claim to be “The ONE TRUE CHURCH” !

This idea of the OTC among cults is expressed in many ways, some of them very ambiguously and not always clearly understood by the folks that hear the assertions. The claim to be the OTC by cults, and the many different ways that say or imply it,, is generally called Authoritarianism. Authoritarianism being defined as “Characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to authority, as against individual freedom” (1).

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REVIEWED BY Pastor Douglas Brown: Dr. Sidwell has done a superb job in describing the “Churches of Christ” & their theology. Having been one who grew up for over 18 years in the “Church of Christ” & believed zealously what I was taught by the teachers & ministers of this denomination, I can testify to Dr. Sidwell’s accuracy to what he teaches in this message. As Dr. Sidwell brings out very well, the “salvation” taught by the “Churches of Christ” is extremely dangerous, due to it being so unclear. Baptism is so tenaciously held to, it causes one to conclude their “salvation” is works based.

The Pelagian Controversy

The Pelagian Controversy took place during the early part of the 5th century and it placed at odds a man by the name of Pelagius against the Bishop of Hippo who we may know today as St. Augustine. The controversy came to a focal point at the Council of Carthage where the church declared Pelagius a heretic in 418 AD.

Now to understand this controversy, we need to look into the background of Pelagius.

Pelagius is known as a moral, earnest, and zealous monk who was born on the British Isles. Sometime later in life when he traveled to Rome, he became alarmed about the godlessness he saw in the clergy and other professing Christians. It was while in Rome that he earned a reputation for the calling of Christians to the ‘attaining of virtue and righteousness’. In this way he and his followers had much in common with the Puritans in that they loved the precepts and laws of God and who were also very concerned about the moral laxity they saw in their own day.

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The Pelagian Controversy

The Pelagian Controversy took place during the early part of the 5th century and it placed at odds a man by the name of Pelagius against the Bishop of Hippo who we may know today as St. Augustine. The controversy came to a focal point at the Council of Carthage where the church declared Pelagius a heretic in 418 AD.

Now to understand this controversy, we need to look into the background of Pelagius.

Pelagius is known as a moral, earnest, and zealous monk who was born on the British Isles. Sometime later in life when he traveled to Rome, he became alarmed about the godlessness he saw in the clergy and other professing Christians. It was while in Rome that he earned a reputation for the calling of Christians to the ‘attaining of virtue and righteousness’. In this way he and his followers had much in common with the Puritans in that they loved the precepts and laws of God and who were also very concerned about the moral laxity they saw in their own day.

The crisis point came, however, when Pelagius read a famous prayer written by St. Augustine and it was a statement in this prayer that troubled him greatly. The statement was, “Oh God, grant what thou dost command…” and it was this statement in that prayer which set into motion the controversy that was to ensue.

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Most of the information in this article is taken from the sources footnoted.

Restorationism is the claim that the Christian Church fell away from the truths of Jesus and the NT apostles and had to be “RESTORED” to it’s NT state and practice. The whole Christian church had become apostate and non-existent, is their claim. But this allegation is pure folly and uninformed speculation. This is also in total contrast and contradiction to the idea of “REFORM” and the protestant reformation.

The main influence and emphasis of the Restoration Movement of the Cambellite’s and their subsequent offsping religions of the “restorationist” that followed and was spawned from them, is seriously flawed and based on the false assumption that the true Christian Church had been wiped clean from the face of the earth (needing to be completely restored) and that Gods promises about his church and word are not true. In the face of much persecution and attempts to abolish God’s church and word from the face of the earth, there has always been at least a large remnant of true believers and members of the incorporeal and invisible church of God. “’Restorationism’ is based on a belief called the Great Apostasy, that traditional Christianity has departed so far from the original Christian principles that it is not redeemable.” (2)

The bible contains these promises about itself and Jesus’s Church.

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Who are the Churches of Christ?

The Churches of Christ are an association of churches that trace their history back through the preaching of Barton W. Stone in the American mid-western frontier, an ex-Presbyterian preacher heavily influenced by Methodists and Shakers, and Alexander Campbell, an ex-Presbyterian, then Baptist preacher in the 1790s to 1860s.

The Stone-Campbell Movement began as a unity movement. Alexander Campbell came from the Old Light Anti-burgher Seceder Presbyterian Church of Ireland and Scotland. Campbell rebelled against the rigidly closed taking of the bread and cup in his congregation in Ireland. Only those who passed the catechism were permitted to partake. No other Presbyterians who disagreed with them were permitted to partake with them. (Some trace the Church of Christ penchant for debate and division to their Presbyterian/John Knox/John Calvin/Ulrich Zwingli heritage.) Campbell was a postmaster who spread his teaching through magazines he edited.

The Stone-Campbell Movement, or more familiarly called the Restoration Movement, gained momentum as it followed the frontier of the United States. In Kentucky at the Cane Ridge Camp Meeting in 1801 it became wildly Pentecostal (belief in the present-day miraculous movement of the Holy Spirit). By 1830 the movement was anti-pentecostal and anti-emotional, especially on the Campbell side of the movement. (The Stone side of the movement remained more emotional, believed in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, was more grace-oriented, and was more open to people outside the Churches of Christ.)

In the early 1800s the Churches of Christ/Christian Church/Disciples of Christ claimed to have been the fastest growing religious movement in the world. Alexander Campbell was invited to preach to the Congress of the United States of America.

Four preachers from the Churches of Christ, including Sydney Rigdon, joined the early Mormon Church around 1824 and influenced it to reflect several of the doctrines of the Churches of Christ (including the name of the church and baptism for the remission of sins).

The movement split just before the American Civil War–the richer north opposing slavery and becoming more organized with a missionary society (1843) and adopting organs and pianos, (the Disciples of Christ). The southern portion retained an otherworldly approach and claimed to be the one true church (the Church of Christ).

Restoration Movement groups go by the names of Church of Christ (using instrumental music, mostly in the west, associated with Midwest School of Evangelism in Ottumwa, Iowa), the Independent Christian Churches (the moderate middle of the spectrum, sometimes called the Christian Church, and sometimes called the Church of Christ, especially in Canada and Australia), and the liberal Disciples of Christ (currently discussing ordaining gay clergy, and active with the World Council of Churches) with headquarters in Indianapolis, IN. The O’Kelly movement of the Christian Church eventually joined the United Church of Christ (not identified with the Restoration Movement, but tracing history from the Mayflower Pilgrim Puritans). The southern portion of the Restoration Movement became the Churches of Christ, noninstrumental.

The most famous colleges associated with the Churches of Christ (who worship with a cappella singing) are: Abilene Christian University, Lubbuck Christian University, Harding University, Pepperdine University, Oklahoma Christian University, Freed-Hardeman University, David Lipscomb College, Faulkner University, York College and Rochester College. There are numerous two to four year colleges associated with the a cappella movement.

The noninstrumental or a cappella Churches of Christ split in the United States in the 1950s and ’60s over organization and money distribution. (Can a group of churches pool money to do a special ministry?) The smaller, noninstitutional churches use Florida College, Temple Terrace, Florida.

Until recently, the fastest growing wing of the Movement was the International Church of Christ, headquartered in Los Angeles.

Since the 1970s there has been a growing house church movement in the Churches of Christ, (see also here), many focusing on the doctrine of grace.

Currently the Churches of Christ are shrinking by 2% per year. The larger a cappella Churches of Christ are identifying with the wider evangelical movement (which often looked to Billy Graham for leadership), with a splinter group opting to remain hard-line sectarian (the one true church).

Click here to see what many believe are unbiblical doctrines in the stricter, hard-line Churches of Christ.

http://ex-churchofchrist.com/historyCoC.htm

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “The Autonomous Self“, posted with vodpod

 

 

 

 

The Doctrine of Autonomous Self: A Hidden Idolatry
By A. Sutono

Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!

how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven,

I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:

I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:11-15)

I. Background

In this text, Isaiah describes the fall of Lucifer, as well as the cause and effect of it. We learn the cause of him being eternally condemned by God from v.13 and 14 is that he is so filled with pride and self-adoration that he declares himself to be worthy to ascend into heaven and be exalted above the stars of God. He considers himself to be as equally valuable, as equally worthy, if not more valuable and more worthy than God himself that he should be like the Most High. In response, God removed him from his original state and declares that his splendor be nullified and brought down to shame, and he himself be brought down to hell, to a place of eternal torment which is the lake of fire (Rev 20:10) forever as his eternal destiny. When Lucifer was removed from heaven, his name became Satan, and was cast to the earth. In the account of the Fall in Gen 3, after which God offered the promise of deliverance through the atoning work of the LORD Jesus Christ on the cross implied in v. 15, we may observe the correlation between Satan’s sinful ambition to what he tempted Adam and Eve with, which eventually led the couple to sin against God and caused the entire humanity to be totally and hopelessly depraved and under the same condemnation that Lucifer has as a result. The correlation is clearly seen in Gen 3:5, when Satan, disguised as a serpent, said to Eve, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Here are the double lies being offered to Eve springing out of the same principle behind his botched coup attempt; first, that she would be like gods, and thus independent, able to rule over herself apart from God, and secondly, there is not one God, but many gods; each is sovereign over himself or herself.

From here, I would like to state the thesis of this article before expounding further:

1. That the doctrine of autonomous-self, or often referred to as “free-will”, whether it be “Christian” or non-Christian one, though may not appear explicitly, originates from the same spirit by which Lucifer rebelled against God, that is, the spirit of self-idolatry.

2. That the doctrine of autonomous-self is indeed a non-Christian doctrine because there is nowhere in the Bible that teaches such a doctrine and therefore, should be rejected by all true Christians.

I would like to first define what an autonomous self is. I would then attempt, by the use of the first thesis, refute the free-will Arminian argument to defend this false doctrine, particularly in regard to the Fall, salvation, and all the affairs of the world. Finally, I would close with the Biblical basis of my refutation with the exhortation given in the second thesis.

II. Definition of Autonomous Self

Throughout history, there are many who teach the doctrine of autonomous self, among whom is Pelagius. I would now quote from John Owen [1] on what Pelagianism teaches about the autonomous self:

“According to Pelagianism, God gives grace to all who hear the law and the gospel preached. Those who do this are persuaded to repent and believe by the promises of the gospel and the threatenings of the law. The things taught and commanded in the law and gospel are seen to be not only good in themselves, but so utterly reasonable that anyone would gladly receive them if they were not so prejudiced ( i.e., men can themselves respond favorably to the gospel preached by believing in the message without any regenerating work of the Holy Spirit), or deliberately chose to continue with their sinful life. Man has only to consider these promises of the gospel and threatenings of the law to remove these prejudices and so reform himself. When man believes the gospel and obeys it of his own free will and choice (again, no external divine influence at work to convince him of the truth of the gospel, on the contrary, this conviction comes out within himself), then he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit, enters into all the privileges of the New Testament, and has a right and title to all the promises concerning both the present and the future life. So say the Pelagians. Thus man converts himself, and the grace of our LORD Jesus Christ and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit are both excluded. All that is needed is the ability to persuade him to repent of his sin and believe and obey the gospel.”

In other words, the doctrine of autonomous self teaches that men in both unregenerate and regenerate states is completely independent and capable of self-determination of what is good and bad for him (hence the term autonomous) and from which make decision without any external divine influence or swaying to a particular direction.

To understand what autonomous-self is more clearly, let us look at Sproul’s definition of autonomy [2]:

“To be autonomous means to be a law unto oneself. An autonomous creature would be answerable to no one. He would have no governor, least of all a sovereign governor. It is logically impossible to have a sovereign God existing at the same time as an autonomous creature. The two concepts are utterly incompatible. To think of their coexistence would be like imagining the meeting of an immovable object and an irresistible force. What would happen? If the object moved, then it could no longer be considered immovable. If it failed to move, then the irresistible force would no longer be irresistible.”

Then for the definition of autonomous self, I would borrow from David Wells [3], defining the autonomy generation as:

“…those who belonged in this outlook saw themselves as being at the center of life, as being responsible only to themselves, as having the sole hand in deciding what beliefs to hold and what behaviors to follow.”

And therefore, continuing to quote Wells [3]:

“… the self becomes the main form of reality and the pursuit of its rights and unique intuitions, even in the face of others, is what life is about.”

My comment to Prof. Well’s definition is this. Isn’t the autonomous-self then the essence of prosperity gospel, where Christ has been reduced to a lackey or a genie to serve us to accomplish our agenda whether that be family, or money, or career, or, self-healing, self-improvement or anything other than Christ himself? Some may say they don’t believe in prosperity gospel but believe in free-will in the autonomous sense. This, in my view, is an implicit endorsement of the prosperity gospel.

II. Refutation of the Arminian Argument of Autonomous Self

Now I desire to refute biblically a familiar argument in regard to God’s sovereignty in salvation and all events throughout the course of history. In addition, I would also attempt to show the spirit behind all these arguments tends to resemble that of Lucifer as written in Isaiah 14:13-14. Before I go on doing so, however, I would like to point out ‘the goal of the commandment is love’. I can understand new Christians who believe in autonomous self, because I was like that. I tend to think it is natural for new Christians to have such an understanding of how salvation and all the affairs in the world work. I acknowledge I need the humility to understand those who are slow to grasp the truth in the sovereignty of God over all things. The fact is the LORD had mercy on me to reveal what I consider a precious biblical truth of his sovereignty that I have come to love, embrace, and desire to defend with hopefully a holy zeal, holy motive, yet with humility as well in this article. And may the LORD grant the grace to change and transform hearts and minds into ones that acknowledge and submit joyfully under his supremacy over all things (Col 1:18).

The argument that I would like to refute (though there has been many more qualified pastors and theologians than me, past and present who have done this, but I would try to do it from hopefully a different point of view), is a common free-will Arminian / Pelagian argument which was the first Arminian article in their remonstrance brought by Johannes Uitenbogaard and Simon Episcopious in 1610, which was refuted by the Calvinists’ Counter Remonstrance at the Synod of Dort in 1618-1619, in regard to how salvation works as follows. This first article stated the following: “God’s foreknowledge, that is, divine election was conditiond on foreseen or foreknown faith”. In other words, it says “faith is the cause of election” the basis of which is for example in Rom 8:29, refers to God knowing in advance of who is going to believe by their own free will and who is not, and from there God elects them to be saved. Thus man’s faith existing apart from God’s will but from the man himself is the cause of God’s election. In other words, it all starts with man’s free will to choose to be saved. Men are the Alpha, the beginning, not God. Then based on each independent isolated individual’s decision to believe or to desire to be saved where God has nothing to do with because this comes out completely and independently from man and not God, God is obliged to save them because they have faith to believe. Here men call God to account and demand that because they initiated to believe the Gospel, God is required to save them. So God’s sovereignty consists in submitting himself to and making sure the wills of men are carried out. God is not free in ordaining anything because He is subject to the will of men that he values very much even more important and above himself. Here is the worst kind, the most blatant, the most arrogant, and the most blasphemous of man-centered doctrine that is nowhere taught in the Bible, and an example how the Scripture like Rom 8:29 is distorted to serve man’s needs or if I may borrow John Piper’s quote[4], the gospel has been abused for ‘psychological form of mind control’. I regard this Arminian stand on the free agency of man and God as the most self-centered among man-centered doctrines, even more man-centered than opentheism.

Opentheism at least admits the future is unknown, even God has no control over it and anybody could change it. The Arminian doctrine in regard to the free-will of men as we have discussed is worse than open-theism because it teaches the future is already known, at least in regard to salvation, who is saved and who is not, and who makes this decision before the foundations of the world is men. Then God responds to each individual decision either by saving or condemning. Here is the kind of abomination that I dread has been prevailing in the minds of many Christians, because this is how they were taught by man-centered, world-loving, money-loving preachers. Those who teach this doctrine usually insist that God is still sovereign and omnipotent. But I sense this is simply a futile attempt to cover up their self-centeredness and thus, self-idolatry. God, despite his omnipotence, has been domesticated to serve man’s needs. His omnipotence has become subordinate to man’s will and it is his to use for his benefit. Man makes the call first independently out of his own self-determination of good and bad. Then it is God’s turn to follow up on man’s actions and decisions, whether to clean them up if they are sinful, or to bless them if they are good.

As Mark Talbot says [5] (he explains it in the context of opentheism, but I believe it is applicable here as well) that the doctrine of autonomous self teaches that God values man’s free will so much that he is willing to pay any price. God is really good in cleaning things up to the point that the alternative plan B that he executes looks even better, more perfect than the botched plan A that man has frustrated. So in a way, the doctrine of autonomous self treats God like a lackey or a genie in a bottle whom man can stir as he pleases and wills. Everything God does is for the benefits of man, and here is man, the center of the universe and God’s idol. Therefore, men are not only the Alpha, the beginning, but also the Omega, the end of everything God does and the whole entire universe work for. This, I fear, may God forbid, is the desire behind those who embrace the doctrine of autonomous self which is nothing but the very ambition of Lucifer to be exalted above God (Isa 14:13-14) because the resemblance between the two is striking. It is all about desire for control, as Dave Wells pointed out behind autonomous self [6]:

“This preoccupation with the future is really about control. At least, it is about our attempts at controlling the future as it crests into the present by being able to position ourselves to avoid what is disagreeable and to capitalize on what is advantageous. Indeed, we even go further. We imagine that the future begins in our minds and we can actually create it.”

At this point, I would point to Scripture texts (that I also included somewhere else [7]) that I hope the LORD uses to show the fallacy of the doctrine of autonomous-self, to humble its proponents and exhort them to embrace the doctrine of absolute sovereignty of God over all things. While these texts tend to be self-explanatory in themselves but I shall attempt to expound a little on each:

– “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13). John says the decisive power to become the sons of God ( v.12), i.e., to be saved, does not come from man’s will power, but God’s (v.13). Therefore, contrary to what the first remonstrance article says that faith is the cause of election, John says election is the cause of faith. God initiates salvation, not men. Men are dead in their trepasses (Eph 2:1). Physically dead people do not and can not have any desire (inclination) and ability to eat, drink, work, because they are dead, their brain is dead, their heart is dead, their digestive system is dead, and there is no way for them to revive themselves. So also dead Lazarus was unable to revive himself until Jesus called him and infused life to his body to revive him. (John 11). Lazarus did not revive himself. Jesus did. And thus Lazarus couldn’t brag he was alive because of his free will to be alive. Likewise, it is impossible for spiritually dead people to have any desire for God. Their heart is ‘desperately’ or ‘hopelessly’ wicked as Jer 17:9 says. St. Paul affirms the total depravity of humanity apart unless God changes this heart of stone with the heart of flesh (Ez 36:26-27) because “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law. Nor can it do so.” (Rom 8:7). Notice the last part that says “Nor can it do so.” So let us not brag that we have the free will to be christians or we in our sovereignty “decided” to be christians. Let us not think of ourselves more highly than we should (Rom 12:3) but with sober judgment, I’d say, of who we were, and what we are now, and who God is. Do not rob God of something He did and claim we did it. The faith, the willingness to believe, to embrace Christ as our treasure, our LORD does not come from our self-determination, but He purchased it on the cross.

– “All the plans of the LORD stands firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” (Psalm 33:11). God has written down the course of history from the beginning to the end. All his plans will happen, stand firm forever. Everything originates from Christ and returning to Christ, and the details for everything on its way returning to him is fixed and unchangeable (see also Heb 1:2-3, Rom 11:36). God does not make mistakes. God is not a God who is good in cleaning up mess created by men and coming up with plan B. Nobody can frustrate nor thwart nor prevent God from doing anything he wants, Dan 4:35, “All the people of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand, or say to him, ‘What have you done?'”

– “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16) God has written down not only the entire course of history before the foundations of the world, but also the scenario of each individual who ever lives, past present and future. This is good for believers for two reasons (but may cause free-willers to feel dejected because they don’t desire God to make the call for them, they desire to make the call themselves). First, it teaches humility that you and I are creatures and God is God. We have absolutely no right over ourselves because we don’t own ourselves, God does. Secondly, this is good news because God knows you and me better than we know ourselves. Therefore whatever plans he has for us can be guaranteed to be the most absolute best for our good and the magnifying his name first and most importantly (see Rom 8:28).

– “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” (Isa 46:10-11). God is free to do anything he wants according to the pleasure of his will. His decision making is not constrained by anything, not by the will of men, not by the wills of angels, not by the will of the devil. He is absolutely free in making any calls. Isn’t this what it means to be God? If God has to submit beforehand in his foreknowledge to men’s decision to be saved or not to be saved, then men are gods, and God is their lackey.

A question then arises, “How, despite crystal clear words from the apostle that believers are slaves of Christ (e.g., Rom 6:18,22), can there be such an arrogant doctrine as the autonomous self in Christian churches?” The answer is because the LORD Jesus Christ is an infinitely good, gracious, merciful, patient, loving Master. He is not a hard Master at all. Men, seizing this opportunity arising from their deep-rooted corruption inherited from the Fall, reinforced by the temptation of the old serpent, abuse the kindness of Christ for their own glory. Men, out of their odious mind resulting from the stench infected to them from the Fall, distort the grace of the Savior to serve their own vanity, and so distort the message of the gospel, that is the pursue of God’s (not men’s) glory in salvation through Christ. Since Christ is so patient, then it is their opportunity to question him, to hold him accountable to them, and thus, what John Piper pointed out [8], that men placing themselves on the bench and putting God in the dock, instead of the other way around (he actually quoted this from C.S. Lewis). I sense free-willers would feel uncomfortable in hearing what God’s goal is in everything he does in Eph 1:5-6, “… he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasures and will, to the praise of his glorious grace.” that God saves men not because he makes so much of them, but for the praise of his glorious grace, that his name may be magnified, cherished, worshipped for his great mercy upon mankind, “…that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (Rom 15:9). The only way to cure this discomfort is to acknowledge and repent of the pride and the self-idolatrous spirit behind the doctrine of autonomous self, renounce it, and embrace the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God who causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called, those he called he also justified, and those he justified, he also glorified. Amen.

References
1. J. Owen, “The Holy Spirit,” The Banner of Truth Trust, 1998, p. 76-77.

2. R.C. Sproul, “Chosen by God,” Tyndale House Publishers, October 1986, Ch. 3, p.?

3. D. F. Wells, “Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World,” Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006, p. 234, 153.

4. J. Piper, “Woe to Those who Trample the Son of God,” Desiring God Ministries (audio), April 13, 1997, http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceL…he_Son_of_God/

5. M. Talbot, “All the Good that is Ours in Christ: Seeing God’s Gracious Hand in the Hurts Others Do Us,” Desiring God National Conference, Minneapolis, MN, October 7-9, 2005.

6. D. F. Wells, “Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World,” Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006, p. 239.

7. A. Sutono, “The Defense for the Sovereignty of God in the Fall of Man,” Nov 25, 2006.

8. J. Piper, “Pastoral Thoughts on the Doctrine of Election,” Desiring God Ministries, Nov 30, 2003, ttp://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceL…e_of_Election/

ttp://www.christianchatforum.com/articles/elect.shtml

 

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Questions From Those in the Church of Christ Answered

by Doug Bower

Why is is that you put baptism after salvation when Jesus put it before (Mark 16:16)?

Mark is writing here that there are two results of preaching the gospel. Some would believe and be baptized and be saved. Some would not believe. Notice the lack of the word *baptize* in the second clause. This tells us that the use if the word baptize in the first clause, not being emphasized in the second clause is not the issue or point if this text.

To understand what words in scripture mean they must be defined contextually. What does baptism mean in the context of this text. It is simply a mistake to quote verses and fail to present the verse and your conclusions in the immediate as well as the *remote* context of the rest of scripture. Baptism, in the texts of Scripture, can mean many things. To look at the word and assume it always means *water* baptism is an absurd conclusion and again shows a lack of even the basics of hermeneutics.

The word baptism comes from the “dyers” trade. It was used in secular language to mean to dye a piece of cloth. When someone wanted to dye their white, bleached cloth they would go see the dyer. After looking over the selection of colors available and choosing one, the dyer, would take the cloth and “dip”, or “dunk”, or “immerse” the cloth into the vat of colored dye. When the cloth was removed it was then “identified” with the color of the dye in the vat. This was how the word originated and was used. It can have many meanings depending upon the context in which it is used.

Metaphorically it is used to indicate “union” or “identification” with Christ in His death and resurrection. Literally it can be used to signify the “immersing” of someone or something into water, dye, etc.

The verses you question in Mark 16:16 cannot mean that water baptism is a necessary condition for salvation for the following reasons:

The thief on the cross was not baptized with water but was assured of being in Paradise with Christ (Luke 23:43).

The Gentiles in Caesarea were baptized *AFTER* they were saved (Acts 10:44-48).

Jesus Himself did not baptize (John 4:1-2) — a strange omission if baptism is a necessary condition for salvation. In fact there too numerous passages to cite here where Jesus forgave sin in the gospels but there was absolutely no mentioning of water baptism when He forgave them their sins (Matthew 9:1-8, 15:21-28).

The Apostle Paul thanked God that he baptized very few of the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:14-16) — an insincere thanksgiving if baptism was a necessary condition for salvation… In fact Paul goes on to say in verse 17 that he did not come to baptize but to preach the gospel. Here he makes a clear distinction that water baptism, which is what is clearly in view here, is NOT a necessary condition of salvation.

There are more than 150 verses pertaining to salvation, in the NT, which clearly teach that salvation is by Faith Alone! No one verse, i.e., Mark 16:16 could contradict this overwhelming testimony of scripture.

Baptism, in its metaphorical sense, is not associated with spiritual rebirth but with death and resurrection.

So what does this text of scripture, Mark 16:16, mean? What it *can not* mean is that water baptism is a necessary condition for salvation. To accept this interpretation would contradict the bulk of verses which form the Biblical Doctrine of salvation being by Faith Alone. It would clearly add a “good work” to the salvation process making salvation not of Grace but of Works.

“Now to him who works, the wages are not accounted as grace but debt. But of him who does not work, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted as righteousness.” (Romans 4:1-8 — read the whole passage for context).

This says two things:

Faith is not a human work or else our belief on Him who justifies the ungodly would be not of Grace but of debt. God would “owe” us something for our Faith. Other texts of scripture clearly teach that the “faith that saves” is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:1-10).

It teaches that baptism is not a necessary condition for salvation. If it were, then salvation would be of works and not grace but debt thus again, God would “owe” us something for our work. And it would contradict our Covental relationship with God which was unilaterally established by God because of His mercy and Grace.

Therefore the Mark 16 passage has to mean that baptism is “an expected outward expression” of Faith. A proclamation of one’s faith. Not all get to be baptized such as the thief on the cross. But all who are saved are by Grace as the means, and through Faith as the instrument through which the Gift is received.

If baptism is not necessary, why was Cornelius “commanded” to be baptized in water (Acts 10:48).

Because Peter was obeying the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), and because just as circumcision was a sign and seal of entrance into the Old Covenant signifying the cutting away of sin, undergoing a change of heart, and being including in the household of faith (Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4, 9:25-26; Ezekiel 44:7-9), so is baptism a sign and seal of “washing” away sin”, undergoing a change of heart, and being included in the household of faith. This is the purpose of water baptism. It is an outward sign and seal of the spiritual baptism whereby the Holy Spirit places us in Union with Christ in His death and resurrection.

Baptism is not identical to circumcision but corresponds to it in essence and has replaced it as the sign and seal of our Covental relationship with God as believers.

After 3 days of fasting and praying, why was Paul told by Ananias to wash away his sins through baptism if he was already saved (Acts 22:16).

An examination of the Greek text reveals the grammatical constructions which gives us clues to the meaning of this difficult text. IN the Greek there is a finite verb modified by a participle in each half of the verse. The literal rendering would go as follows: “Having arisen be baptized, and have your sins washed off (by) calling upon the name of the Lord”. This last clause would be supported by properly exegeting the rest of general biblical teaching (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13).

In the clause, “be baptized and have your sins washed off”, both verbs are in the middle voice. As a general rule the verb “to baptize” is used in the passive when referring to the subjects of water baptism. But here the subject is seen as doing something for himself and not merely as receiving: “get yourself baptized”. The seeking of the outward sign and seal, and claiming for oneself of what it signifies is the response of faith to God’s Grace.

If “grace only” saves, why did Paul say baptism puts us in Christ (Galatians 3:27)?

As I said before … baptism can mean many things depending upon the context in which it is used. It can mean being dipped into water or it can mean the Spirit placing us into the Body of Christ in Union with Him and much more.

What does baptism mean in 1 Corinthians 10:2 when Paul writes that the Nation of Israel, the “fathers” (vs. 1), being under the cloud, passing through the sea, were BAPTIZED into Moses?

According to your understand implied in your “text proofing” you would have this mean that the Israelites exercised the necessary condition of salvation and were saved by Moses unto eternal life.

What 1 Corinthians 10 means is that all the Israelites went through the ordeal and deliverance of the Exodus by virtue of their identification with Moses their leader. This is one use of the word baptize which does not mean into water nor having anything to do with a necessary condition for salvation.

You need to read the 1 Corinthians 10 passage with 1 Corinthians 12:13 text. The same sense of the language is being used to convey the thought of identification or union. The similarities are striking.

There is water baptism, a sign and seal of the New Covenant, and there is the baptism of the Holy Spirit whereby we are placed in Union/Identification into the Body of Christ and whereby we are united in the likeness of His death and resurrection (Romans 6).

Galatians 3:26-29 is the Holy Spirit’s baptism. It is the Spirit placing us in Union with Christ. We are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12) and into the likeness of His death and resurrection (Romans 6) thus putting on Christ (Galatians 3). It is a work of Grace and not of man’s. Union with Christ, which takes place at the time of conversion, is confessed in water baptism.

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“Restorationists” and the “Name of the Church”

By Bob L. Ross
Director, Pilgrim Publications

I have a whole book (unpublished) on the “Restoration Movement

Alias the Church of Christ.” Here is one of the chapters:

“Restorationists” and the “Name” of the Church By Bob L. Ross

“Church of Christ” adherents are not in the least backwards about claiming that they only “wear the Bible name;” they even condemn their “relatives,” the “Disciples” or “Christian Church,” because they don’t wear the “right name.” Some of them have even proclaimed that “Christian Church” is a “heathen” name.

We would like to ask a few questions about this so-called Bible name.

1. In the first place, where in the Bible are we commanded to wear this name?

If it is a name to be worn, and if it is essential to salvation to wear it, surely we are commanded by the Lord to wear it. Book, chapter, and verse, please; not opinions, theories, and reasoning. Of course, Romans 16:16 is often quoted in an effort to support their claim, but this verse does not command any one to wear any name. There are other passages which refer to the church under different terms, but they do not contain a commandment for using such terms as a “name.” We are commanded to do many things—repent, believe, be baptized, assemble, observe the Lord’s Supper, pray, preach, etc.—but never are we commanded to wear a name. Does not one, therefore, go beyond “that which is written” when he adds a “name” as if it were a commandment? If there is such a commandment, where is it? Alexander Campbell, one of the founders of Campbellism, and its “scholar,” translates Romans 16:16 as follows:

The congregations of Christ salute you (LIVING ORACLES, page 305). Campbell is recognized as the greatest scholar the so-called “Restoration Movement” ever had. But notice: Campbell does not translate Romans 16:16 so as to support “Restorationist” claims. Why so? He says that the word “church, or kirk, is an abbreviation of the words kuriou oikos, the house of the Lord and does not translate the term ekklesia.” (LIVING ORACLES, appendix, page 55). On this Campbell is right, for the Greek authorities tell us that ekkesia is best translated by the words “assembly” or “congregation.” Church is a word which refers to a material building, rather than to people. The word church, like baptize, appears in the King James (Episcopalian) Version because the “rules” of King James dictated that the word be used. Therefore, if Romans 16:16 gives us the name of the Lord’s assembly, what should it be? Not “Church of Christ,” for “church” is an improper translation, according to Campbell and Greek authorities. Campbell himself asserted that “Disciples” should be the name, while Barton W. Stone, another one of the “Reformers,” insisted upon “Christians.” Actually, Campbellites have been fussing over a name for their “baby” ever since it was “born.” In the CHRISTIAN REVIEW, edited by Mr. Martin, there appeared several years ago, this statement: There is, perhaps, no question about which our people are more divided than that about the name. So divided are we upon this question that the census takers cannot ascertain who we are, what we believe, or our number.

What confusion! — and on such a petty matter!

2. A paper entitled THE VINDICATOR says that any term which describes the church is all right to use as a name. But THE VINDICATOR fails to give a single verse that commands us to wear “any term.” Here is what the paper says:

I see where some Baptists are offering $100 for a Scripture which teaches that the name of the church is “The Church of Christ,” or any other particular name . . . Personally, I wouldn’t be interested in proving the foregoing for any amount of money—because I would be trying to prove something I do not even believe. Any Bible term that describes the church is acceptable to me, not just one particular name. One of the terms in the Bible, however, is the ‘Churches of Christ’ (Rom. 16:16). (Alan Highers, May 1, 1958 issue). That’s all very interesting, but you will notice that he did not tell us where we are commanded to wear “any Bible term” as a church “name.” The writer refers to “any Bible term that describes the church;” all right, suppose they start calling themselves “The Pillar and the Ground” (I Tim. 3:15), which are Bible “terms” that “describe” the church; will these “terms” be all right as the “name”? Why did they settle on the one name, “Church of Christ,” instead of several? And why do they insist that everyone else is going to Hell for not wearing this “name”?

Why don’t they hang out this sign: The Body, Temple, Building, Pillar and Ground, Household, Flock, Bride, City, and Candlestick of Christ? All of these “terms” are descriptive of the church. If all these are right to use as “names,” then is it right just to hang out one? Yet this is exactly what “Restorationists” do. Can they tell us why? How strange for a man to say he “wouldn’t be interested in proving . . . something I do not even believe,” then proceed to assert that very thing!

This is sometimes called “double-talk.” We have no objection to using terms to “describe” the Lord’s church, but we do object to making names out of terms, demanding that we wear them or go to Hell. There are many terms used of God’s people, such as “sheep,” “elect,” “living stones,” etc. Would it be right to say, then, that those in the church must wear the name “Sheep of God,” or some other name? Nonsense.

3. Actually, “assemblies of Christ” in Romans 16:16 is in the possessive case, and is no more giving a “brand name” than any other verse in the Bible. The verse simply tells us who is saluting (assemblies) and whose assemblies they are (Christ’s).

I challenge any person on the face of the earth to give one single verse that commands us to wear the name “Church of Christ” or any other “term” or name. The reward ($100) still stands, too. H. A. “Buster” Dobbs of FIRM FOUNDATION magazine claims there are several “New Testament names” for the church, and one may use whichever “name” he “prefers!” (Mar. ‘92, p. 4). This simply magnifies the fact that there is no command to use a certain “name.” Yet Dobbs also says “it is all right” to use “church of Christ exclusively!” You may “prefer not to use” other Bible “names” and use the lower-case “church of Christ” only! In the New Testament, this was neither practiced nor commanded – Dobbs himself being the witness, as he says Romans 16:16 is the “only time” in the New Testament where “church of Christ” is used. So where is “Bible authority” for the exclusive “preference” of this so-called “name?” None whatsoever! This “hobby-horse” is a “deduction” of the distorted “logic” which permeates “Restorationism.”

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Various Doctrinal Positions of The Campbellite Church of Christ And a Lutheran Response to Those Positions

Revised August 2006

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We use only the Bible to formulate doctrines. We do not have confessions, catechisms, creeds, or other ‘man-made’ writings to formulate doctrines.”

Leroy Brownlow, Why I Am a Member of the Church of Christ (Fort Worth: Brownlow Publishing, 1945), 45-50.

Lutheran Response: This is an oft-cited claim made by the Campbellite Church of Christ. The reality is quite different. The Church of Christ, in fact, has many confessions, catechisms, and other “man-made” writings that have been used to formulate doctrines. The foremost of all doctrinal writings within the Campbellite Church of Christ used for the purpose of catechesis (indoctrination) is the five volume set of books entitled Sound Doctrine. These books were written by Charles Ready Nichol and were copyrighted by Nichol Publishing Company in Clifton, Texas. Written in the 1920’s, this set has served as the primary work of doctrinal formulation within the Campbellite Church of Christ.

Another primary text used for catechesis is the three volume set entitled Hardeman’s Tabernacle Sermons. Nicholas Brodie Hardeman is perhaps the most revered preacher within the history of the Church of Christ. During March and April in 1922, Hardeman delivered a series of sermons in the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. His sermons are included in this set. Two generations of Church of Christ preachers have been brought up and trained on these sermons by N.B. Hardeman.

The writings, sermons, and lectures of such men as Foy Wallace, Austin McGary, Thomas Warren, Guy Woods, and Grover Cleveland Brewer are also highly regarded within the Church of Christ and were all significant contributors to the “oral tradition” of doctrinal formulation which was handed down throughout the 20th century.

For the Campbellite Church of Christ to claim that is has used only the Bible to formulate its doctrines is patently absurd and is an egregious fabrication. The historical truth is that this church body is replete with books intended for catechsesis.

The principal creed of the Campbellite Church of Christ is the claim espoused by Thomas Campbell: “Where the Bible speaks, we speak. Where the Bible is silent, we are silent.” Even here, the Church of Christ does not adhere to its own creed. Rather, when the Scriptures are silent, the Campbellites have done much speaking and writing. They continue to do so.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “Ours is the church you read about in the Bible particularly in Acts 2. Ours is the only true, visible church on earth. Our church began in A.D. 33. A person must be a member of our church if he hopes to go to heaven.”

Ibid., 10-20.

Lutheran Response: Again, this claim is pure sophistry. The Campbellite Church of Christ that exists today did not originate in A.D. 33 in Jerusalem on the Pentecost festival following the Lord Jesus’ resurrection and ascension as the Campbellites claim. The Campbellite Church of Christ is, in fact, of relatively recent origin having its history entirely on American soil.

The Church of Christ actually began in Brush Run, Pennsylvania on Saturday, May 4, 1811. Thomas Campbell and his son, Alexander Campbell, along with two other American frontier preachers (Barton Stone and Walter Scott) began the Campbellite Church of Christ. In the memoirs of Alexander Campbell written by his son-in-law, Robert Richardson, we find the following excerpt of Thomas Campbell’s “conversion” and “calling” by God to form a new church:

“By earnest and diligent prayer, and the constant use of all the means prescribed by sympathizing and pious friends, he sought, apparently in vain, for those assurances of acceptance and those tokens of forgiveness which were regarded as necessary accompaniments of a true faith and evidence of ‘effectual calling’ While in this state, and when his mental distress had reached its highest point, he was one day walking along in the fields, when, in the midst of his prayerful anxieties and longing, he felt a divine peace suddenly diffuse itself throughout his soul, and the love of God seemed to be shed abroad in his heart as he had never realized it. His doubts, anxieties and fears were at once dissipated, as if by enchantment. He was enabled to see and to trust in the merits of a crucified Christ, and to enjoy a divine sense of reconciliation, that filled him with rapture and seemed to determine his destiny forever. From this moment he recognized himself as consecrated to God, and thought only how he might best appropriate his time and his abilities to his service.”

Robert Richardson, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell (Germantown, Tenn.: Religious Book Service, 1897), 23.

Thomas Campbell arrived in the United States from Ireland in 1807. His son, Alexander, along with the rest of his family followed in 1809. Thomas Campbell had already formed the “Christian Association of Washington County” in Brush Run, Pennsylvania in 1809. This was the first association of “Campbellites” to be organized. Thomas’s son, Alexander, upon arriving to meet his father determined later in the year that this association would be destined to further the cause of the church in America. In Alexander Campbell’s memoirs by Richardson, we find another revealing excerpt:

“He [Thomas] had, by this time [1811], become fully convinced that, on account of the continued hostility of the different parties, it was necessary that the Christian Association should assume the character of an independent Church, in order to the enjoyment of those privileges and the performance of those duties which belong to the Church relation. It was with great reluctance that he finally concluded to take this step, and to separate himself from those whom he desired to recognize as brethren. Such, nevertheless, is the usual fate of reformers. Religious reformations however they may be aided or modified by external circumstances, must always originate within the church itself. Such was the case with the Reformation of Luther, of Calvin, of Knox, of Wesley. Luther was a monk; Calvin as Romish curia; Knox a Catholic priest; Wesley an Episcopal presbyter. It commenced in a community claiming to be the purest portion of the Church, and, when proposed to its hierarchy, was rejected and denounced. Now, as before, the light shone in darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not. Hence a separation became inevitable, and this separation appeared no less grievous to the human feelings and sympathies of Thomas Campbell than similar ones had done to those of other reformers. ‘He would have lived,’ as D’Aubigné says of Calvin, ‘to see all the Church transformed, rather than set himself apart and build up a new one.’ Having found it impossible, however, to effect this transformation, he felt it to be his duty to organize an independent community.

At the next meeting of the Association, accordingly, the matter was duly considered and agreed to, as the attitude which the religious parties had assumed, seemed to leave no other alternative. Before entering into this sacred relation, Thomas Campbell deemed it proper that each member should give some personal and public evidence of a fitting knowledge of the way of salvation; and he proposed therefore that each should be required to give a satisfactory answer to the question: ‘What is the meritorious cause of a sinner’s acceptance with God?’ With most of the answers to this question he was entirely satisfied and was particularly well pleased with the views expressed on the occasion by Joseph Bryant. The answers of two of the members being unsatisfactory, their admission was postponed. Neither, however, was received, both having subsequently proved themselves unworthy. James Foster happened not to be present at the above meeting, and when, on Saturday, the 4th of May, he with the other members, assembled at Brush Run for the purpose of organization the question arose: ‘Is James Foster a member, not having been present at the time the test question was propounded?’ Some seemed to think not, but Alexander, who, it would seem, was not entirely convinced that there was any authority for such a test, immediately arose and said: ‘Certainly, James Foster is a member, having been with us from the beginning, and his religious sentiments being perfectly well known to us.’ The test question was not propounded to him, nor to anyone else afterward. As this meeting, Thomas Campbell was appointed elder, and Alexander was licensed to preach the gospel. Four deacons were also chosen.

On the following day, being the Lord’s day, the Church held its first communion service. Alexander preached from John 6:48, ‘I am the bread of life,’ and verse 58, last clause: ‘He that eateth of this bread shall live forever…’

Afterward, his father delivered a discourse from Romans 8:32: ‘He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?’ Thus there was formally established a distinct religious community, based solely upon the Bible, and destined in its future history to exhibit the entire sufficiency of the basis thus chosen.”

Ibid., 365-369.

As seen from this primary source record, the first Campbellite church ever to appear on the face of the earth had its origins on Saturday, May 4, 1811. On that date, the Christian Association of Washington County in Brush Run, Pennsylvania assembled to transform itself into a church. On Sunday, May 5, 1811, the Campbellite Church of Christ had its first worship service. Thus, not on Pentecost Sunday in Jerusalem but in Brush Run, Pennsylvania on May 4, 1811, the group that would later declare itself to be the only true visible church on earth was born.

Today, however, the spiritual children of the Campbellites do not care to dwell upon the early history of their fathers and the church body they began. Mention anything about the origin of the Campbellite church and Campbellites prove themselves to be great “broad-jumpers” for they are able to leap all the way from our day back to Pentecost asserting it was this day that the “Church of Christ” had its beginning. Campbellites always seek to dodge any mention of the true history of their church as it exposes the organization for the cult that it is.

As Bob Ross correctly observes:

“What a change was wrought by the Campbells. On Friday, May 3, 1811, this group had only been an ‘association,’ but on the following day it had resolved itself into a ‘church.’ On Friday, the group would not have pretended to possess any authority for the administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper nor for the ordination of ministers, but on Saturday, May 4, 1811, this ‘church’ appointed Thomas Campbell as ‘elder,’ and licensed Alexander to preach, chose four ‘deacnons,’ and on the following day, Sunday, administered ‘communion.’ The name of this unsaved, unbaptized, unscriptural, man-made ‘church’ was ‘First Church of the Christian Association of Washington County.’”

Bob R. Ross, Campbellism, Its History and Heresies, (Pasadena, Tex.: Pilgrim Publishing, 1981), 21.

Thus was born the “only true visible church on earth.”

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We believe a person must complete five steps in order to be saved. A person must: a. Hear the Word; b. Believe the Word;

c. Repent of his sins; d. Confess his sins publicly; e. Be baptized by immersion only.”

Lutheran Response: Campbellite ally, Walter Scott, who met Alexander Campbell in 1821, became absolutely convinced that he was proclaiming the “ancient Gospel” with his rationally conceived “plan of salvation” which has long been central to Church of Christ thought and undoubtedly owes its origins to Scott himself. “The plan” went through several stages of development, however. The first stage in “the plan” took place in 1827, while Scott was serving as evangelist to the Western Reserve on behalf of the Mahoning Baptist Association – the organization with which the fledgling Campbell movement was at that time affiliated. By then, Scott had enlarged “the plan” from the simple proposition that “Jesus is the Christ” to a covenantal conception involving human responsibilities and God’s benevolent response. The human duties were three – believing the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, repenting of one’s sins, and submitting to immersion for the forgiveness of sins. In return, God responded with the forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and eternal life. Scott was absolutely convinced that he was proclaiming “the ancient gospel” when he made this six-point “plan” the primary substance of his preaching in the Western Reserve in 1827. In order to use the mnemonic device of five fingers, Scott reduced the number of steps from six to five in publicizing his meetings. He accomplished this reduction by collapsing the last two points into one – the gift of the Holy Spirit. Scott routinely spoke to children on their way home from school and taught them what he called the “five-finger exercise.” He placed one of his five points on each of the five fingers, and then told the children to make a fist and keep it closed until their arrived home. They would then open their fists, show their parents what was “on their fingers” and explain that the man who had taught them this exercise would be preaching that very evening.

Scott’s “five-finger” exercise brand of preaching produced a significant result from the legalistic tendencies inherent in the primitivism and rationalism of both Scott and Alexander Campbell and in due time came to dominate Churches of Christ. When this happened, Scott’s heirs transformed the five – point plan from one that emphasized both the work of humankind and the gracious response of God to one that featured only the work of the individual. By the twentieth century, this five-point plan of salvation had become commonplace and was routinely featured in Church of Christ preaching. It featured five human tasks: hear the gospel, believe the gospel, repent of one’s sins, confess the name of Jesus, and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Even more startling is the fact that this more legalistic form of Scott’s “plan” was heralded as orthodoxy as early as the 1840’s.

Richard T. Hughes, Reviving the Ancient Faith – The Story of Churches of Christ in America, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmand Publishing Company, 1996), 51-52.

The “five step plan of salvation” as is taught in the Campbellite Church of Christ is singularly the result of the era or legalistic rationalism in the early history of the United States when the power of the human mind was held in the highest regard. Nowhere in the Scriptures are these five steps spelled out as being “necessary” or “required” for salvation. Rather, the five steps are all gifts from God for the benefit of the sinner – Hearing the Gospel (Romans 10:17); Faith (Hebrews 12:1,2); Repentance (Acts 5:30,31); Confessing (1 John 4:2); Baptism (Titus 3:5-7).

The five steps to heaven taught by the Church of Christ is pure salvation by works and not by grace. This is a good example of how the Campbellite Church of Christ not only confuses Law and Gospel but, in fact, turns them completely around. The Church of Christ has made the Gospel into Law and the Law into Gospel. This is another indication that the Campbellite Church of Christ is a cult.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We believe only five acts of worship are authorized in the Bible: 1. Acappella singing, 2. Praying, 3. Taking a collection, 4. Taking communion, 5. Preaching. To do anything else during the worship service is not authorized and is thus sinful and vain worship.

Lutheran Response: These “acts of worship” cannot be traced to any reliable historical source within the Campbellite Church of Christ. They are more likely part of the “oral tradition” originating from a preacher’s pulpit and circulating to eventually become “orthodox” teaching. Again, there is no location in the Scriptures that identifies these acts of worship as the only acts ordained by God apart from any others. This is merely more man-made rationalism coming from the strong influence upon Alexander Campbell and his dependence upon enlightenment philosophy, particularly the thought of John Locke and the perspective of the “Baconian” school of Scottish Common Sense Rationalism named after Lord Francis Bacon, father of the inductive method of reasoning and the new science.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We believe using “MIM” (mechanical instruments of music) during the worship service is not authorized in the Scriptures and any church that uses musical instruments is engaging in “vain” worship.

Lutheran Response: The two primary passages of Scripture upon which the Campbellite Church of Christ bases this doctrinal position are Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 both passages calling upon Christians to sing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” The Campbellite Church of Christ has fabricated what it calls the “law of exclusion” stating that what is not explicitly commanded is thus implicitly forbidden. This law of exclusion is simply more intellectual logic which becomes necessary for the church body to uphold its doctrinal positions. The claim is made that these two passages “authorize” only singing without the accompaniment of musical instruments. Both passages, however, include the singing of psalms with the Greek word psallo specifically meaning to sing with the accompaniment of musical instruments.

Over the years, Campbellites have attempted such elaborate arguments as to compare these passages with the command of God to Noah to build the ark only with “gopher” wood (Genesis 6:14). The Campbellite “law of exclusion” suggests that the wood God commanded Noah to use necessarily “excluded” the use of any other kind of wood. No “gopher” wood tree existed in Noah’s time. There is no such thing as a “gopher” wood tree. Rather, “gopher” is the Hebrew word simply describing indigenous wood that could be locally acquired.

Another argument frequently presented against the use of musical instruments is the account of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1,2). These two men offered “strange fire” before the Lord. They were consumed by fire and put to death for doing so. The argument is made that the two men died for doing what had not been expressly commanded. Campbellites fail to mention that Nadab and Abihu, in fact, did what God in Exodus 30:7-9 had specifically forbidden.

There is no express command of prohibition from God in the Scriptures forbidding the use of musical instruments in Christian worship. In Jesus’ telling of the parable of the lost son, He states that the older brother “heard music and dancing” when the younger brother had returned to his father. The Greek word for music is the word for a symphony (Luke 15:25). Thus, if no express command of prohibition exists forbidding the use of musical instruments, it cannot be imposed by any man or man-made church. The Campbellite Church of Christ is imposing a command of prohibition when the Scriptures make so such command. This is adding to the Scriptures something that is simply not in the text. Adding to or taking away from the Word of God is strongly condemned in Revelation 22:18,19.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We believe the Bible is interpreted in the following manner: 1. Direct Command, 2. Approved Example, 3. Necessary Inference (CENI)”

Lutheran Response: This three-fold method of Biblical hermeneutics is yet another example of Baconian rationalism which made up the early core of orthodoxy of the Campbellite Church of Christ in the middle nineteenth century. This hemeneutical trilogy was formulated by Moses Lard (1818-1880) and cannot be found in the Scriptures.

“In 1855 Jeremiah Jeter [Baptist critic of Alexander Campbell] launched a scathing attack on the religious principles of Alexander Campbell. Among other things, Jeter accused Campbell of confining all Christians to his own movement, and he ridiculed Campbell’s claim that he had based his movement on the Bible alone, apart from human judgment and interpretation. A graduate of Bethany College [founded by Alexander Campbell in 1840], Moses Lard took up the task of responding to Jeter at Campbell’s invitation and on Campbell’s behalf. Regarding the charge that Campbell thought his movement the true church, Lard shot back, ‘Mr. Campbell does not claim for himself and his brethren that they, as a body exhaust the meaning of the term the church.’ But Lard was quick to add, ‘so far as the body of Christ has on earth a denominational existence, they are that body.’

But it was Jeter’s other charge that struck directly at the heart of the emerging Churches of Christ. When Jeter claimed that Campbell and his followers interpreted the Bible rather than just taking the Bible at face value, he undermined the very philosophical premise of the movement. Lard therefore returned to this issue again and again as one of prime importance. In 1863, for example, he published a classic article in the literature of Church of Christ ideology entitled ‘The Reformation for Which We Are Pleading – What is it?’ Central to Lard’s understanding was the Baconian common sense principle that all persons can know a thing precisely as it is without any difference in perception whatsoever. Like Campbell, Lard applied this Baconian epistemology directly to Scripture. ‘The Bible, then, being assumed true,’ Lard declared, ‘we hold that its content may be so apprehended that the mind has…the highest possible assurance that its knowledge is correct.’ That was Lard’s starting point and, indeed, the philosophical starting point for the sectarian vision of Churches of Christ.

With this foundation, Lard was ‘prepared to answer more definitely’ the question regarding ‘our plea.’ ‘The reformation for which we are pleading consists,’ he wrote, ‘1st, In accepting the exact meaning of Holy Writ as our religious theory…2nd, In the minute conformity of our practice to the revealed will of Christ…Hence all practices having their origin in tradition, human reason, or expediency, are utterly eschewed…Thus it is proposed continually to construct the body of Christ after the Divine model.’

Several months later, Lard elaborated on these arguments in another key article, ‘Have We Not Become a Sect?’ There he argued that all Christians can see the Bible alike, ‘It is a humiliating fact [therefore]…that they will not see alike…[and] a grand lie that they cannot.’ He admitted in principle that there were individual Christians within the denominations, but he effectively read these Christians out of the true church when he argued that ‘if a man knowingly holds one false doctrine, or one which with reasonable effort he might know to be false, … it is certain that he cannot be saved if he remains in this condition.’ At the same time, he claimed that the Churches of Christ of the Campbell movement had been absolutely successful in conforming their doctrine and practice precisely to the Bible at every point. ‘Have we introduced into the church any foreign element or doctrine unsanctioned by the Bible…? If so, I shall only say that forty years watching and labor upon the part of our opponents who have lacked neither ability nor industry, have been wholly insufficient…to detect the element.’ Lard concluded that ‘we accept as the matter of our faith precisely and only what the Bible teaches, rejecting everything else.’ He left no doubt, therefore, that he believed the movement fathered by Alexander Campbell to be virtually identical with the nondenominational church of the apostolic era.

In spite of Lard’s contention that ‘we accept as the matter of our faith precisely and only what the Bible teaches,’ he nonetheless argued that a biblical doctrine or practice might be established in one of two ways: ‘by being actually asserted [in the biblical text]’ or ‘by being necessarily implied.’ He thereby made explicit what had been implicit among Church of Christ for many years – namely, the belief that the New Testament makes its requirements clear in one of three ways: through direct command, through example, or through necessary inference. This threefold hermeneutic has characterized Churches of Christ ever since, hardening into a virtual orthodoxy by the twentieth century.

Hughes, 60-62.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We believe communion should be served every Sunday.”

Lutheran Response: Agreed! Acts 2:42 and Act 20:7 both indicate that Christians gathered for worship on the first day of the week and this worship gathering included a celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Celebrating the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day has been the historical practice of the Lutheran Church. Many pastors within The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod are working to reclaim this proper practice within their congregations. However, what is practiced in the Campbellite Church of Christ is not the Lord’s Supper at all. The Campbellite Church of Christ uses the incorrect elements (Matthew 26:26,27). It fails to understand the words of institution spoken over the elements (1 Corinthians 11:23-25). It refuses to acknowledge the presence of the body and blood of the Christ in the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26,27; 1 Corinthians 10:14-17). It refuses to acknowledge that the Lord’s Supper is for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28). The doctrine and practice of the Lord’s Supper as it is observed in the Campbellite Church of Christ renders the supper totally invalid.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We believe only a person who is old enough to know what he is doing should be baptized. Infants cannot believe and thus should not be baptized.:

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We believe baptism should only be by immersion. To baptize any other way is sinful and invalid.”

Lutheran Response: These two frequent assertions by the Campbellite Church of Christ regarding baptism shall be answered together. Simply stated, baptism is not something we do for God. Baptism is something God does for us. Baptism is a special activity that occurs in the church and is a means by which God’s spirit comes to us to fill our lives with forgiveness, acceptance, and love. The Lutheran Church views baptism as a sacrament because it is a special means of grace that Christ commanded His disciples and His church to do. And it comes to us connected to the physical element of water. In the Gospel of Matthew, we read in chapter 28:

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Even at this point, the Lutheran Church has been challenged to its referring to Holy Baptism as a sacrament. The word sacrament comes from the Latin Bible (called the Vulgate). This is the first Bible translation in which both the Old and New Testaments were translated into the same language. At first, this word described all of the saving truths of the Christian faith such as the Trinity, the incarnation of Christ, the redemption of souls, the church, etc. Later it was narrowed to refer only to Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. It translated the Greek word in the New Testament for the mysteries of God.

God is the initiator of all the good gifts we receive in this life. God first gives us our lives and a marvelous world in which to live. We don’t ask for these gifts. They are simply given out of God’s grace. As we grow in years, God gives us the ability to discover, learn, and understand. We don’t ask for these abilities. They are simply given as part of who we are. God gives us the ability to love. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). God even gives us the ability to have faith and then gives us the faith itself. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9). We believe in God because God gives us faith.

All of these gifts come to us freely, whether we ask for them or not. God gives. We receive. God gives air. We breathe. God gives life. We live. God’s love and acceptance are not based on our own goodness. They are gifts that come to us whether or not we deserve them.

Often, one hears this response to these affirmations. “Yes, it is true that God gives us all good things. But we have to accept those gifts. Just as we may give a gift to a person we love, that person must either choose to accept or reject the gift. The deciding responsibility lies with the receiver of the gift.” Although this may be a true assertion when we are discussing giving gifts for a special occasion such as a birthday, anniversary, or at Christmas, it is not true when we are discussing how God gives His gifts to us. God’s gifts to us are always given in the shadow of our fallen sinfulness. God’s gifts are very precious because they can only come from Him. When we consider God’s precious gifts to us in comparison to our sinful condition, we begin to see a very different pattern of divine “gift giving.” St. Paul gives us some clues into this giving pattern of God in his epistle to the Romans, chapter 4:

4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. 5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:

7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,

And whose sins are covered;

8 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.”

St. Paul is quoting from the Old Testament, Psalm 32:1-2. He also writes in his epistle to the Colossians, chapter 2:

13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

This language Paul is using is very interesting. He refers to debts, crediting accounts, charging accounts, payment of wages, forgiving of debts, and debts being recorded against us. They sound like terms an employer, an accountant, or an officer in bank would use in their account keeping. It is here we have the key to God’s method of “gift giving.”

Suppose you were issued a credit card from your bank. You now have the privilege to make “charges” on your credit card account up to a certain dollar limit. Perhaps you have been issued a “gold” card and you may charge as much as $5,000 or even $10,000 on your credit card account. Over a short period of time, let’s say you “maxed out” your credit card and you now have $10,000 of debt with interest piling up on top of it. Your monthly payment is larger than you can afford to pay and it is growing because of the accumulating interest. You are in serious trouble! You are in a position in which you can do nothing to help yourself. You face bankruptcy and financial ruin. You may even be facing criminal prosecution because of your crime of not paying your bills. The credit card bill comes each month giving you the bad news of how much you owe.

Then one month, the statement comes as usual. You cringe to see how much you owe. As you look at the statement, your fear suddenly turns to surprise. The statement tells you that your new balance is $0.00! You owe nothing! You no longer have the debt charged against you account. How can this be? What happened? You call your bank to investigate the matter. Surely, there has to be some error! After a moment, you find yourself talking to the president of the bank who tells you in a very kind voice that he had reviewed your credit card account and saw the massive debt you had accumulated. With a sense of compassion for your hopeless situation, he had decided to forgive your debt. The bank would pay your debt in your place. Indeed, this was truly a gift. This was a very generous gift. It is a very good example of what “for-giveness” really is – giving beforehand.

This gift was given to you without your having to decide whether to accept or reject it. In fact, the gift was given without your even being aware of it. The account was simply zeroed and cleared. You are now free from that terrible burden of debt.

At this point, what would you say to the bank president who had done this very generous thing for you? One response might be that you may become angry with the bank president and say to him, “I don’t need your charity! I don’t need your forgiveness! I am quite capable of paying my own debts, thank you! I demand that the account be left the way it was!” Or you could say, “Thank you for your kindness and generosity! I was so foolish to charge up my account with so much debt. I could have gone to jail over my total inability to pay my debt. Thank you. Thank you. How much more wonderful it would be for the bank president to say to you, “I hope you have learned a lesson from this episode. But it was my pleasure to help you in this way. If there is anything I can do for you in the future, I hope you will feel free to call.”

Now it is true this would be a wonderful story if it really happened. It is not at all likely that a bank president would do such a thing as the one in our story. But we do have a God like this. And this is His manner of forgiving us or giving us those things we truly need and canceling our debt even before we know to ask for it and certainly before we can decide to accept or reject it. The Scriptures state:

17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

(1 Peter 1:17-19)

This is a very important key to understanding what happens in God’s precious gift of baptism. Baptism is a gift from God. It is given to us who could do nothing to receive or even to decide to accept or reject it.

In the third chapter of the Gospel of St. John, we find Jesus talking about baptism with Nicodemus. When Jesus said, “You must be born again…of water and the Spirit,” he was telling Nicodemus that baptism was essential. Baptism isn’t just a matter of pouring water over someone. It’s more than an admission that we are sinners who need God’s forgiveness. According to Jesus, the Holy Spirit is at work. Through, baptism, the Spirit gives new life and bring us into the kingdom of God.

We know God has created us and has given us the gift of life before we could prove we were worthy of it. We did nothing to initiate our own physical life. We simply received life from God. Our responsibility in life is our response of thanks and praise for the marvelous gifts God has given. Likewise, Christ died for us while we were sinners – before we even had faith. He didn’t say to us, “First be good enough and then I will love you.” By His life and death, He simply said, “I love you and want to save you regardless of who you are or what you have done.” Our responsibility in faith is not to make salvation happen. We simply respond to what God has already done for us. God gives. We receive. God acts. We react to that action. And that’s how it works in baptism.

This is the most important point to be made about what Christian baptism is: God is the active force. God is doing the giving. God is doing the accepting. As with all the rest of God’s good gifts, we do not initiate God’s gift of acceptance in baptism. We simply receive it. And later as we grow to know and understand that God has accepted us, we grow in our appreciation of His grace. First we receive. Then we believe. That is baptism.

But Why Do We Baptize Babies?

A well-meaning Campbellite friend comes up to you and tells you that you are wrong to baptize your children before they are old enough to make a choice themselves to be Christians. “Unless they know what is going on and make a conscious choice to follow Christ, baptism isn’t valid,” the friend says. How do you answer your friend?

To answer any question about baptism, it is important for us to remember that baptism is God’s gift of acceptance and forgiveness. God is the initiator of life, of love, and of faith. To assume that God cannot accept a child unless the child first accepts God is to place the responsibility for faith in the wrong court. It is, as the expression goes, “putting the cart before the horse.” God is the lover. God is the actor. We react to God’s love. God takes the responsibility for accepting us. To assume that a child should not be baptized is to assume that we do the acting in baptism and not God.

But God is the one who acts in baptism. His Spirit is at work, washing away our sins, giving us new life, and making us a part of His family. These are the gifts we want for our children as well as ourselves. Thank God He gives them even to infants.

15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant 16 and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read,

‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants

You have perfected praise’?” (Matthew 21:15,16)

The question of baptizing babies or the practice of infant baptism has been debated for hundreds of years and has divided branches of the Christian faith. Some branches of Protestantism argue that babies should not be baptized because they are too young to believe. They say that a person has to choose to follow Christ first and then be baptized. Otherwise the baptism isn’t real. The Bible’s answer to this logic is clear. God’s power is not limited by our faith – or lack of it. God’s power in baptism is not dependent on the child’s understanding or cooperation.

42 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42).

Even as an infant is capable of having natural trust in a mother and father, so it is capable of having spiritual trust in its creator.

Suppose a young woman just gave birth to a baby. The new mother and father are excited and happy about the new gift from God. However, their happiness quickly turns to anxiety when the doctor informs the young couple that the baby has a heart defect. The doctor goes on to explain to the couple that an outstanding heart surgeon is on his way to the hospital. The heart defect which the baby has is life threatening and surgery is absolutely essential. The doctor, however, assures the couple of the competence of the heart surgeon and his experience in doing this surgery many times. The doctor tells the new mother and father that the chances of the surgery being successful are excellent. The baby would have a full recovery and live a very normal and healthy life.

Of course, the parents give their consent to the surgery and are relieved and overjoyed that the outcome was just as the doctor had said. The surgery is a complete success and their new baby would be fine. Using this same scenario, it would have been nothing short of ludicrous for the doctor to have told the parents about the serious situation with their newborn baby and then to have told them, “but I would recommend to you that we postpone this surgery until the child is old enough to understand the nature of the heart defect, to understand the basic aspects of the necessary surgical procedure, and to decide for himself whether or not to have the surgery performed.” The effectiveness and successful outcome of the surgery rested in the hands of the skillful surgeon and not with the newborn child. This the way with God in baptism. God’s power creates faith in all of us whether young or old.

A very reasonable questions that follows from this position might be, “but can God create faith in a child or infant?” Rational logic might find this difficult to accept. However, rationalizations and logic must give way to the Scriptures. In the Gospel of St. Matthew, we read in chapter 18:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

6 “ But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (vv.1-6).

The Greek text of the New Testament (the language in which the New Testament was originally written uses the word micron which is translated as “little ones” in the final verse. A micron is the smallest unit of measurement in the metric system. It indicates that Jesus is referring and including children even when they are their smallest size. And it is these “microns” who believe in Him. Jesus indicted that little children really did believe in Him. Their faith was precious in His sight. He used a child’s faith as a model for the faith that adults should have.

In Luke 1:41-44, the Holy Spirit was working in John the Baptist’s life even before he was born:

1 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 “But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

44 “For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.”

Daniel Preus tells a very eloquent and winsome story about how a child can have faith. He writes:

“How the Spirit shows us Jesus may be better understood if we consider the nature of faith. Because many people misunderstand what faith is, they have concluded that we decide to become Christians, that we make a decision for Jesus and that this decision is instrumental in becoming a child of God. But if this is so and if it is also true that we are justified by faith, those who teach these things also are teaching that we are at least partially responsible for our own justification. But what exactly is faith? Lutherans frequently use the word trust to describe the nature of faith or as a synonym for the word faith. Who creates trust? The one who trusts or the one who is trusted?

Many years ago, my 4-month old son Dirk was lying on the couch when his oldest brother, Seth, began to play with him. Seth hugged and kissed Dirk, who cooed and smiled. Then Seth left. A few moments later, my daughter Kirsten walked up to the sofa to spend time with her little brother. Before Kirsten even touched Dirk, he began to whine and whimper. Kirsten, who was 3 years old, hadn’t yet learned how to be gentle with a baby. Dirk didn’t enjoy being rolled over or dragged around by the arm. Although Kirsten had no desire to hurt him, Dirk didn’t trust Kirsten. Dirk cooed and smiled for Seth because he trusted Seth to treat him gently and carefully. Did Dirk make a decision to trust Seth and not Kirsten? Did he decide to trust boys and not girls? Did he decide to trust 9-year-olds but not 3-year-olds? No, trust in his brother was created in Dirk by Seth’s behavior and distrust in Kirsten was caused by her behavior.

As another example, how would you react if a politician who has not shared his platform with you says, ‘I only have your best interests at heart. Trust me.’ Would you trust him immediately? No, he needs to earn your trust, which he does on the basis of the way he acts. If you come to trust this politician, it will be because he has acted in a trustworthy fashion. It is the nature of trust that it can be crated only the one who is trusted.

The same is true of faith. It can be created only by the one who is believed. The message about Jesus – who He is, what He has done for us – is the message that brings us to faith in God. The Holy Spirit shows us Jesus, how much He loved us, how He sacrificed Himself for us, how His passion for His wandering sheep was so great that He , the Good Shepherd, gave up His life for the sheep. The Holy Spirit shows us how trustworthy the Savior is, and faith is the result. Thus faith is created by the Spirit through His Word. Because of faith, we are justified, we enter the kingdom of God, and we enter the church. This is how we come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. This is how we come into fellowship with an uncountable company of angels, with those whose names are written in the Book of Life, and with God our Father and with Jesus, His Son.”

Daniel Preus, Why I Am a Lutheran, Jesus at the Center, (St. Louis:

Concordia Publishing House, 2004), 72-74.

God told the prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament:

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

And some say that God cannot work in the life of a child and give that child faith! There is good news for these folks. The Bible teaches that God can and does work faith in the heart of even the smallest children.

Shoe Me Just One Place in the Bible Where it Says Babies Should be Baptized!

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’

The promise of the forgiveness of sins and the reception of the Holy Spirit is for all people including children. Again, referring to the Greek text of the New Testament, the word used for children is teknois. It is a noun which is derived from the Greek verb tikto which means “to give birth.” Teknois is the best Greek word referring to children because it includes children of all ages from infancy on up. Bear in mind that the practice of the Lutheran Church is to baptize children of any age. It is not restricted to baptizing infants only.

In Summary – Who’s Doing What in Baptism?

If Christian baptism is only for those who have enough faith to repent and believe, we are wrong and hypocritical to baptize anyone who is too young to exhibit these qualities. But the Bible clearly shows that God is the creator of faith. Since faith, forgiveness, and acceptance are the work of God, we simply follow Christ’s command to baptize and teach all people. We must not put limits on God or try to dictate what God can or cannot do. Or whom God can love and accept as a child of the kingdom. We simply do as Christ commanded and trust in Him for the rest.

Can our Creator plant the seeds of faith in a child? If the answer is yes, it is a wonderful miracle of grace. If the answer is no, then God is not as powerful as the Bible indicates. However, the final, joyous conclusion is a triumphant yet. What God is able to do in the life and heart of an adult, He is quite capable of doing in the heart of even the youngest child.

Perhaps no single question is asked more often than this one. This question has been deliberated for centuries within Christendom. It is a valid question worthy of consideration. However, the answer offered here is entirely from the Lutheran perspective. Not all churches that baptize children and practice some form of effusive baptism teach the same theology or doctrine regarding such practices. Thus, the answer offered for this most commonly asked question does not attempt to speak for all such churches. It is only to speak from the Lutheran perspective.

Of infant baptism, Luther wrote:

“Let us look to the reason why they hold that children do not believe. They say: Since they have as yet not come to use their reason, they cannot hear God’s Word; but where God’s Word cannot be heard, there can be no faith; Romans 10:17: ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,” etc. Tell me, is one who judges God’s works in this way, according to our ideas, speaking like a Christian? Children have not come to the use of their reason, you say, therefore they cannot believe? What if you have already fallen from faith through this reason and the children have come to faith through their unreason? My friends, what does reason do when faith and God’s Word are concerned? Is it not a fact that reason most violently resists faith and the Word of God so that because of it, no one can come to faith or put up with God’s Word unless reason is blinded and put to shame? A man must die to reason and become a fool, so to speak, yes, and must become more unreasoning and irrational than any young child if he is to come to faith and accept God’s grace, as Christ says Matt. 18:3: “Except yet be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” How often Christ points out to us that we must become children and fools and how often He condemns reason!

Again, tell me, what sort of reason did little children have whom Christ caressed and blessed and assigned to heaven? Surely they, too, were as yet without reason. Why, then does He order that they be brought to Him, and why does He bless them? Where did they get the faith that made them children of the kingdom of heaven? The fact is that just because they are unreasoning and foolish, they are better fitted to come to faith than the old and reasoning people whose way is blocked by reason, which does not want to force its big head through the narrow door…

But since their reason so besets me, we must attack them with their own wisdom. Tell me, why do you baptize a man after he has come to the use of his reason? You reply: He hears the Word of God and believes. I ask: How do you know? You say: He confesses as much with his mouth. Should I say: What if he is lying or deceiving? After all, you cannot see his heart. Well then if in this instance you baptize only because a man has outwardly professed faith but are uncertain of his faith and must wonder whether he has more within his heart than you can observe, then neither his hearing nor confessing nor faith is of any avail; for it may be a delusion and not a real faith. Who, then, are you to say that outward hearing and confessing are necessary for Baptism, that where these are not present we should not baptize and that where they are present we should?… Is it not true that you must admit: You have no right to do to know more than that the person to be baptized be brought to you and that you are asked to administer Baptism; and you must believe, or rather, simply commit to God where or not he really believes in his heart. Thereby you are excused, and you baptize correctly…

Beside, tell me, where is the reason of the Christian believer while he is asleep, since his faith and God’s grace admittedly never leave him? If, then, faith can continue without the co-operation and awareness of reason, why should it not also being in children before reason is aware of it?…

Commit the faith to Him who commands them to be brought and baptize them at His command, saying: Lord, Thou dost bring them here and dost command them to be baptized. Therefore Thou wilt surely answer for them; on this I depend. I dare not drive them away or forbid them Baptism.:

Edward M. Plass, What Luther Says – A Practical In-Home Anthology for the Active Christian, (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), 51,52.

Scriptural Examples Commonly Cited to Support Immersive Baptism

Frequently, two Scriptures passages are held as definitive evidence that immersive baptism is the only valid mode of baptism. Both passages are frequently cited from the King James Version of the Bible.

The first passage comes from the Gospel of St, Matthew:

16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him…(Matthew 3:16)

The second passage frequently cited is found in the Acts of the Apostles:

38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:38-39)

In the first verse cited in Matthew 3:16, excessive emphasis is placed on the King James wording that Jesus “went up straightway out of the water.” The implication is made that if Jesus came out of the water in a straightway manner, then it must be understood He was below or under the water for Him to be able to emerge in such a straightway manner.

Investigating this text in the original Greek language, the word translated in the King James Version for “straightway” is euthus. This is not a word which carries the idea of a straightway direction. It is not a word that implies direction at all. Rather, the word has the meaning of rapidity in speed and deliberateness of intent. It is more properly translated with the word “immediately” which is a theme running throughout St. Matthew’s Gospel. In examining the sentence construction of the verse, we likewise find this applies not to the direction in which Jesus came forth from the water but in the rapid manner in which He did so. He came forth from the water immediately. The adverb also applies to the immediate opening of the heavens and the descent of the Spirit of God as a dove upon Jesus after His baptism rather than before.

The second verse from the book of Acts must also be carefully considered by the fact the text states both Philip and the eunuch went into the water and both emerged from the water. Must this then imply that both the baptizer and baptized should be immersed so as to afford a proper administration of baptism? Even immersionists would concede this places undue stress upon the activity reported in this Scripture passage.

The Greek Word for Baptism (baptizo) Means “Immerse”

This statement is correct. The Greek word for baptism (and its other cognates) does mean “to immerse.” The Lutheran Church does not oppose the practice of immersive baptism. It is a perfectly valid and proper mode of administering baptism. However, the Lutheran Church does oppose the assertion that such administration of baptism is the only proper method and further opposes the assertion that any other form of administration is thus consequentially invalid or defective in some manner.

More needs to be included regarding this oft-stated argument. When consulting an authoritative Greek Lexicon, the student discovers more than one definition for the Greek verb baptize. In the highly authoritative Greek Lexicon of Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and revised by William Danker (2000), the following citation is found for the word baptizo:

βαπτίζω**

wash ceremonially for purpose of purification, wash, purify

to use water in a rite for purpose of renewing or establishing a relationship w.
God, plunge, dip, wash, baptize

“The transliteration “baptize” signifies the ceremonial character that NT narratives accord such cleansing, but the need of qualifying statements or contextual coloring in the documents indicates that the term β. was not nearly so technical as the transliteration suggests” (p.164).

As shall be discussed, the Holy Scriptures seem to prefer using “wash” as the definition in association with baptism. Four passages of Scripture are offered for consideration.

In the Gospel of St. Mark, chapter 7, the text reads:

4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.

The Greek New Testament text renders the word baptison in this verse that is translated with the word wash. Clearly, however, the Gospel writer is not referring to Christian baptism in this citation. Rather, he speaks of the Jewish ceremonial washing regulations that were being practiced by the Pharisees and Scribes in Jesus’ day and of which St. Mark mentions in an account of the Pharisees charging Jesus that neither He nor His disciples were complying with these ceremonial rules.

Also in the Gospel of St. Luke, chapter 11:

37 And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. 38 When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner.

Again, the Greek New Testament text renders the word baptizo which is translated with the word, wash.

A third passage of Scripture is offered for consideration. From St. Paul’s epistle to Titus, chapter 3:

4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

In this passage, St. Paul is clearly writing of the regenerative nature of Christian baptism. But he does not use the word baptize. Rather, St. Paul uses the word loutron in emphasizing the washing nature of baptism.

A final passage of Scripture indicates the same technique used again by St. Paul. In his first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 6:

11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

St. Paul is again clearly writing of the regenerative nature of baptism. However, he uses the word form apelousasthe rather than the aorist form ebaptisthen.

The assertions made with this evidence are threefold:

The New Testament does not command the mode of Christian baptism to be singularly that of immersion. If it is not commanded in the Holy Scriptures, men cannot command it.

The Greek word baptizo is not always used to refer to Christian baptism in the New Testament and is sometimes used with its other meaning (wash) intended.

Christian baptism is not always intended exclusively with the word baptizo. On occasion, other words are used to denote Christian baptism.

The Early Church Practiced Baptism By Immersion

Again, this statement is correct. However, it is not a complete assertion as is usually held. The early church had other practices which related to baptism and early Christian literature sheds light on these facts. In his book, The Church of the Catacombs, The Early Church, From the Apostles to AD 250, Walter Oetting writes:

“Justin described the baptismal rite: ‘Those who believe what we teach and are willing to live accordingly are instructed to ask God in prayers and fastings to forgive their past sins. We pray and fast with them. They are brought to a place where there is water and bathed in the name of God the Father and Lord of all, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit,’ (1 Apology, 61).

A manual of instruction and liturgical rules called the Didache, probably originating in Syria in the late first or early second century, adds: ‘If you do not have living [running] water, baptize with any other water; and if you cannot in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, then pour water on the head three times. (Didache, 7). The Didache, Justin Martyr, and Hippolytus make it clear that the common form of baptism in the early church was immersion. This symbolized dying and rising again with Christ. But immersion was not the only mode of baptism being used. Pictures from the Roman catacombs depict the initiate being drenched with water poured on him with a seashell. Cyprian, the bishop at Carthage in the middle of the third century, wrote that the method of sprinklng was also used. He went on to assert that the manner in which the water was applied was of minor importance as long as it is done by a priest of the true church. (Letter 69,7-11).”

Exactly How Do You Baptize in the Lutheran Church?

The method of administering holy baptism employed in many Lutheran congregations is not at all unusual. We do not baptize only infant children. We will baptize a person of any age. We have on occasion baptized and entire “household” of husband, wife, and children. Such a practice is taught in the Scriptures such as Acts 16:14,15 and Acts 16:29-31.

In our Lutheran congregation, the water is applied with a brass metallic “seashell” symbolizing the same seashells which were used by the early Christians. Water is scooped form the baptismal font and it poured over the forehead of the candidate three times – each in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

A Question For the Immersionists

Early Chrisitan literature indicates that the immersion of the baptismal candidate was indeed a common practice. However, the literature also indicates that the baptismal candidate was immersed three times. As the proper mode of administering the water is the crucial component in baptism in immersionist churches, why is this not practiced today?

Conclusion

It may be reasonably asked that if the manner in which the water is applied is not necessarily of primary importance in the Lutheran Church, then why not immerse the baptismal candidate in water alongside the same principal as pouring the water? The answer involves the matter of our confessional witness to the world and to the other churches in the local area. For Lutherans, the matter of the mode of baptism is a matter of adiaphora which means the mode of baptism is not specifically commanded in the Scriptures nor is any mode specifically forbidden.

Thus, for any church to teach that only one mode of baptism is valid and all other modes invalid is to violate Scripture. It is to do nothing less than add to the Word of God when no such word is given. When a Lutheran congregation finds itself (as it often does in the southern United States) in the midst of immersionist church bodies that make such claims, it must in Christian love and gentle faithfulness stand up to such assertions and give a clear witness that it will not be bound by nor pressured into these positions when they are brought to bear on the Lutheran congregation or on any of its members. When a clear witness is called for in the face of opposition, a practice which should rightly be a matter of adiaphora can no longer be such. The mode of baptism is a matter of Christian freedom. It should remain as such.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We reject the doctrine of original sin. Babies are born ‘safe’ and ‘innocent.’ Thus they do not have any sin needing forgiveness.

Lutheran Response: The Scripture passages the Campbellite Church of Christ holds up to support this absurd position are Ezekiel 28:15 and Ezekiel 18:20.

15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.

20 “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”

Both passages are Hebrew poetry in which literalistic meaning cannot be derived. Even if this were not the case, both passages of Scriptures pertain to actual sins which had been outwardly committed and say nothing about the spiritual nature in which a child is born. In Ezekiel 18:20, the passage states that “the son will not share in the guilt of the father, not will the father share in the guilt of the son.” This passage is correct. All persons are held accountable to God for their own sins and not the sin of another person including parents or offspring.

In contrast, Psalm 51:5 reads:

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

Also, Psalm 58:3 reads:

3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.

In John 3:5,6, Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus reveals that the necessity of one being born again (baptism) is due to the fact that flesh gives birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

Jesus’ usage of the word “flesh” always indicates sinful flesh. Sinful parents can only give birth to sinful children. Thus, the need for them to be born again in baptism.

Another argument that is made comes from the question of why babies and children die? The only reason for anyone dying is because of sin. Romans 6:23:

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

However, a more important question needs to be raised here. What is the eternal disposition of the child’s soul after death? The answer which has been offered to this writer is “children go immediately to heaven” because they are “safe” and ostensibly because they have no sin needing forgiveness. This must then mean children go to heaven without the need of a Savior since they have nothing from which they need to be saved. Consequently, they have no need for Jesus Christ who is the only Savior of the world and the only way to eternal life in heaven. Finally, if children have no need for Jesus Christ as their Savior because they have no sin needing forgiveness, then it must mean (albeit only for infants and children) that there is more than one way to heaven.

St. Luke writes in Acts 4:12:

2 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

There is only one way to heaven and that is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Infants, children, and adults all get to heaven the same way.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We teach the ‘age of accountability’ doctrine that states a person’s sins are not held against him by God until he is ‘old enough’ to know he is doing wrong.”

Lutheran Response: The doctrine of an “age of accountability” is a doctrine of subterfuge within the Campbellite Church of Christ. It is a doctrine which was created out of necessity to reconcile the paradox the Campbellites created for themselves between the doctrine of the essentiality of baptism in order to be saved and their denial of the doctrine of original sin. On the one hand, Campbellites teach the absolute necessity for any person to be baptized in order to be saved. On the other hand, they must reject the doctrine of original sin otherwise they would be forced to acknowledge the necessity of baptism for infants and children. Thus, the doctrine of “the age of accountability” was created.

This doctrine states that a child is only held accountable by God for his sins once he reaches the age of his being cognitively aware of his sins. The Scripture passage held out to support this doctrinal position is Isaiah 7:16:

16 “For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.”

It is interesting how a church body that so vehemently rejects the binding nature of the Old Testament must subsequently depend on it so heavily in its attempts to support such strange doctrines.

A quick review of this passage of Scripture shows the context which is offered here in the prophet’s writing. The paragraph of text for this section begins with verse 13:

13 Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? 14 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. 15 “Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 “For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.

This is a clear passage of Messianic prophecy pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Certainly Jesus Christ was the only child who was born perfect.

It is true that children have a continuing progression of developing reason and discernment in their lives that continues throughout adulthood. But discernment and “accountability” are two very different things. There is no point in a person’s lifetime here on earth when he is not accountable to God for that life and the conduct of his life. Romans 14:11,12 states:

11 For it is written: “As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We teach that baptism is for the remission of sins. But only for a person’s past sins.”

Lutheran Response: This is a doctrinal position not well know even among members of the Campbellite Church of Christ. However, two sources bear this out:

“Churches of Christ have stood almost alone in the religious world on the subject of water baptism. We have insisted that immersion of a penitent believer is essential to salvation from past sins.”

Alan Highers, ed., The Spiritual Sword, no. 2 (January 1994) : 1.

“Though in becoming a child of God, one is commanded to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, it is, and can be, only for the sins committed before becoming a child of God, for he is guilty of no other sins before that time.”

Charles Ready Nichol, Sound Doctrine, vol. 5, (Clifton, Tex.: Nichol Publishing Company, 1920), 65.

As the Campbellite Church of Christ stresses the absolute necessity of being baptized, rejects the biblical doctrine of original sin, and yet affirms an “age of accountability,’ baptism in the Church of Christ, by definition, must cover only a very small portion of a person’s sins during his lifetime. Only those sins having been committed from the moment the person reaches the “age of accountability” [and who decides when that age is reached?] until the moment he is baptized are remitted in the baptism. Any sins that have been committed before the “age of accountability” and any sins committed after the person is baptized must be absolved somehow by the person himself as his baptism is not efficacious outside this very narrow window of remission. Rather, baptism is for the forgiveness of all sins.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We teach that observing Christmas, Easter, and other “religious” holidays in the church is sinful. Worship on Sunday should be the same every week.

Lutheran Response: The Scripture passage that is held up as supporting this position is Romans 14:5:

5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.

Stated simply, a careful reading of the entire chapter of Romans as well as Colossians 2:16,17 –

16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,

17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

will reveal that the passages of Scripture purported by the Campbellite Church of Christ to prohibit festivals in the church are the very passages that support the church’s freedom to celebrate the significant events in the life of our Lord and of His church.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We reject that Christ descended into hell between the time of His crucifixion and resurrection.”

Lutheran Response: Again, most members of the Campbellite Church of Christ are not aware of this doctrinal discrepancy. In an oral presentation made on December 13, 1998, Campbellite Stephen Wiggins stated that Jesus Christ descended into the “realm of the dead” [Hades] but that He did not descend into hell itself. Mr. Wiggins states that he believed there were four eternal destinations. Paradise and heaven and well as Hades and hell. The Scriptures teach that only two eternal destinations exist – heaven and hell.

1 Peter 3:18-20 reads:

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

The Greek word used for “prison” is phylake which is an eternal place of punishment from which there is not escape.

Concluding Comments: The Campbellite Church of Christ has existed for almost 200 years (est. 1811). Its doctrines and paralogistic methods of argumentation place it in the same category as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Watchtower Society. It consistently lies about its true history and rejects any attempt to the contrary.

In its more recent history, this organization has spawned an even more bizarre sect known as the “Boston Movement” or more recently as the “International Churches of Christ” led by Kip McKean. This very strict cult focuses its recruiting and proselytizing efforts on young college students most of whom are away from home for the first time.

The well known author, Max Lucado, is a member of this organization preaching in a large congregation in San Antonio, Texas. Also the much publicized special prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, is a member of the this group.

The position of this writer is one that claims the Campbellite Church of Christ to be a cult. It has throughout its history lied and distorted the facts concerning its origins and many of its aberrant doctrines.

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Today, the Campbellite Church of Christ is a seriously divided fellowship. It is comprised basically of two groups – the “(a)historical hardliners” who continue to deny the Campbellian origins of their fellowship and the “contemporary conservatives” who have recently made outward overtures to unite with the Disciples of Christ which is another branch of Campbellite history. Members of the Church of Christ should be encouraged to abandon thus spurious organization and begin catechesis with a conservative congregation of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

For anyone reading this document, please do not misconstrue its polemical character with any personal animosity toward anyone who may be associated with the Campbellite Church of Christ. Many people within the Church of Christ maintain their membership on the basis of familial loyalty and a genuine fear that to depart the fellowship means forfeiture of one’s eternal salvation.

However, the doctrinal matters discussed in this documents are of the highest importance and should be regarded in a serious manner. Indeed, the eternal souls of many people are at stake.

Dr. Keith W. Schweitzer

Pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church

505 NE Dodge Street

Greenfield, Iowa 50849

641.745.5143

keithlcms@iowatelecom.net

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The “Church of Christ” and What God Requires for Salvation
Concerns about Works Righteousness and Legalism

“I’ve tried my entire life to keep all the rules and was so deadened staring at a mean, vindictive God who handed out more rules for ‘comfort’.” —-a Church of Christ sister in Phoenix

The CC seems to think that other professing Christians are lax in obedience. That may be so. A true saving faith must be a living faith (James 2). There is little room in the Christian faith for “easy-believism” which could be defined as turning one’s back on clearly understood biblical instruction. Certainly, the believer should seek to conform his life to the will of God as best as he understands it. Faith implies faithfulness. The New Testament speaks often of such concepts as the obedience of faith. The protestant reformers put it this way: Salvation is through faith alone, but not through a faith that is alone. So, we stand with you in attempting to overcome the shallow view of easy-believism in Christianity.

Actually, a case can be made that those accepting Church of Christ theology are not doing ENOUGH to satisfy God! How so? Tim Keller in his book The Reason for God explains how a legalist he knows came to understand the problem. He says that a certain young woman began attending his church who grew up in a church that taught that God accepts us only if we are good enough. She said that the new message of the true gospel was scary. When asked why, she responded:

“If I was saved by my good works then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with ‘rights’—I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if I am a sinner saved by sheer grace—then there’s nothing he cannot ask of me.”

What is meant by obedience within the CC seems to be different in the CC than in other parts of Christianity. How about reading this essay by Cecil Hook:(www.freedomsring.org/fic/chap25.html ) and then tell others as specifically as you can exactly what we must do to be saved? (We do not think you can possibly comply with this request.) What are the essentials for a Christian in order to be saved

http://www.freedomsring.org/ftc/chap13.html)? Please consider this essay by Hook. Is Hook correct that God requires different things for different people?

Has obedience been so stressed so that the Church of Christ has crossed the line into legalism and fallen into the trap of the Pharisees? Does the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk 18:9-14) apply as Garrett suggests (www.freedomsring.org/heritage/chap34.html)?

Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).” What is the context of this command? Isn’t it love? Have you subtly abstracted the law of God from its original context? Is your motivation for keeping Christ’s commandments the law for its own sake and the supposed results that you get from law-keeping? Or is your motivation a deep and abiding love for Jesus! Has your insistence on carefully and mechanically keeping the law robbed the essence of the New Testament of its love, joy, and life (http://www.freedomsring.org/ftc/chap26.html)!

Jesus warned the scribes and Pharisees: Woe to you! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law—justice and mercy (Matthew 23:23). If works are so important, why not emphasize the ones that Jesus emphasized—namely justice and mercy, as well as evangelism (the Great Commandment and the Great Commission)? If you will “know them by their fruit,” why not be known by these things rather than the things the CC is known for such as like a cappella singing, church attendance, separatism, water gospel, etc.? What message do you seek to send to non-Christians? Doesn’t Jesus want us to be known as those who have a radical motivation to mercy and love?

Have you added legislation to God’s law and treated it as if it were from God? If so this is a perilous danger! Have you added regulations that seek to bind the conscience? Have you added prohibitions against card playing, lipstick, dancing, wine, etc. as external tests? Where are such prohibitions in the Bible? Have you moved subtly from Godly morality into moralism? If so, as theologican R. C. Sproul explains, THIS IS A DEADLY VIOLATION OF THE GOSPEL. (Regarding wine in particular, see http://www.freedomsring.org/fts/chap8.html).

The Church of Christ’s view on justification seems confused and contradictory to us. It always seems to end up with obedience as the way one is justified. When we asked a dear CC friend—who is an elder in a Church of Christ—how he knows that he is saved, he responded, “Because I have been pleasing to God.” Can one really be pleasing to God? Is there anyone who is righteous: Mk 10:18, Rom 3:10-11, 1 Jn 1:8-10? Isn’t our justification imputed by the righteousness of Christ rather than from ourselves? As put by C. K. Moser, “If man pleads his own works, he ignores the blood of Christ. Whoever does that will most certainly be ignored by God. No insult could be greater to God than to ignore the gift of ‘His only begotten Son.’ Hence Paul wrote again and again, “Not of works.’ See Eph 2:8-9, Tit 3:5, Rom 4th chapter.” See Moser. If you don’t read any other of Cecil Hook’s essays, please read this one. We believe that he hits the nail on the head on just how we get to heaven:
http://www.freedomsring.org/ftc/chap12.html

We cannot help but wonder whether the CC fails to appreciate the depth of our sin. The Bible says that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jer 17:9). It also says that “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it (Jas 2:10, Mat 5:48). So, if you believe the Bible, your heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. And assuming that you acknowledge at least some sin, you are guilty of breaking the whole law. Right? Thus, if you are guilty of breaking the whole law, are you really pleasing to God?

In fact, since each one of us is guilty of breaking the whole law, aren’t we therefore guilty under the law and deserving of hell no matter how hard we try to keep the law? How can one possibly say that he is pleasing to God?! What seems most ironic is that in spite of its insistence on New Testament commands, the CC seems to have missed the New Testament purpose of the law—which is to show us our own sin Rom 3:20. If you have, in fact, missed the deeper penetrating spirit of the law rather than the external letter of the law, isn’t it fair to say that God is not pleased?!

There are other examples of how CC theology seems to us to contradict itself. Here is what one CC teacher says: “The church of Christ does not teach salvation by works. We teach salvation by the grace of God, which is given to those whom God says will receive it: specifically, those who humbly submit to his will.” When we asked, doesn’t the Bible make it clear that it is one’s inward character that is important (Titus 1:15), this same person responded: “Yes, and the inward character will result in humble obedience, which God requires in order for one to be saved.”

We reviewed an audio tape of a lesson from the same Church of Christ gentleman. In explaining Ephesians 2:8-9 he said that “Well, this passage must mean that there are some works that do not save,” implying that there are some works that do. But in other contexts this man said, “This of course does not mean that works can earn salvation.” Isn’t there a contradiction in these two apparently different statements? What then is a straight forward answer to how one is saved?

If a Christian can sin so as to lose one’s salvation, just what sin or sins will place him in such danger? Is it possible to know at what point one has committed such a sin and become lost again? Please be specific and give clear Bible references.

To reiterate, the CC view on justification is contradictory. The first law of logic—The Law of Non-Contradiction—says that two distinctly different or opposite things cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense. So, how is it reconcilable to say that we are saved by a free gift (Romans 5:15, 5:16, 6:23) from God (grace) and at the same time imply that the gift is not free—that we are saved by our works after all? Your method of interpretation makes the Bible contradict itself at every turn. Grace does not mean grace; a free gift is not free. Man is not hopelessly sinful; but then again he is. Christ is necessary; but then he isnt’t. The law does not save; but yes it does (and only a Church of Christ preacher can interpret all the details of which works save and which ones don’t). This hermeneutic leaves the Bible in hopeless shambles.

Let us ask this question of biblical logic: Is grace necessary for salvation? If you say yes, then does it not follow that NOTHING one can do will be sufficient to save us? Thus, no matter how hard you labor to earn God’s favor, there is still something missing, namely God’s grace? If you say no, how do you deal with the over 100 passages in the New Testament that insists that we are saved by grace?

Is CC theology similar to that of Pelagius, who who in the 4th century taught that man by his own powers, without the imputation of the Holy Ghost, can turn himself to God, believe the Gospel, be obedient from the heart to God’s Law—and thus merit forgiveness of sins and eternal life? Wasn’t this theology declared a heresy even by the Catholic Church—which places a high importance on obedience—because it is contrary to Holy Scripture, being the same works righteousness theology as the Galatian heresy and the Pharasaic heresy?

In fact, doesn’t God despise the idea of works righteousness (Mat 23)?
We may be very wrong, as we often are. But those of us who look at the CC from the outside see such statements regarding justification as inherently contradictory and legalistic. It seems to us that the hermeneutic error that the CC makes is to make biblical statements about justification additive rather than reconciled. So, instead of making conflicting statements about, on the one hand, how we are saved by grace and elsewhere saying that we must be obedient to be saved—a contradictory construction—a better and non-contradictory construction would be to say that we are saved by grace through a type of faith which leads one to conform his life to the will of God. Does the Bible contradict itself? If so, it cannot be the Word of God. The distinction here may be subtle, but crucial.

The Galatian Heresy

“I was trying to convert others to a body of truth or system of doctrine more than to Christ. Often addessing those who already believed in Jesus, I sought to convince them of a code of law which I thought they had failed to recognize and understand. But I was the one who needed more insight. Jesus rebuked me along with others like me in his day: ‘You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they they bear witness of me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.’ John 5:39” —-Cecil Hook, Church of Christ preacher, from his book Free to Change.

J. Gresham Machen explained that, “Paul as well as the Judaizers believed that the keeping of the law of God, in its deepest import, is inseparably connected with faith. The difference concerned only the logical…order of three steps. Paul said that a man (1) first believes on Christ, (2) then is justified before God, (3) then immediately proceeds to keep God’s law. The Judaizers said that a man (1) believes on Christ and (2) keeps the law of God and the best he can, and then (3) is justified.” So, correctly understood, sanctification follows justification as growth follows birth. (From Christian Reconstruction by Gary North and Gary DeMar.)

Here is where we think the Church of Christ misinterprets the Bible. As phrased by North/DeMar, “A Judaizer is someone who believes that salvation is by grace through faith plus keeping the law….But no one is can be saved by keeping the law. This is the Bible’s point when Romans 6:14 says that the Christian is not under the law. This is far different from saying that the Christian is not obligated to obey the law as a standard of righteousness.

Prior to regeneration, a person is unable to keep the law and is condemned for his ‘lawlessness.’ After a person comes to Christ the curse of the law is lifted.” So it seems that the Church of Christ makes the same mistake as the Judaizers!

North/DeMar continue: “This question needs to be answered in a no/yes fashion. No! Christians are not sanctified by the law if one means that the law is added to faith to save someone (the Judaizing heresy). ‘I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly’ (Galatians 2:21). If there is anything that man can do to merit or retain his salvation, then there is room for boasting. The Bible says that rebellious sinners do not even add faith; it too is a ‘gift of God’ (Ephesians 2:8)….’We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law’ (Romans 3:21-28).”

A Church of Christ preacher told us that “We do not need the righteousness of Christ to be saved.” This statement should horrify any Christian. How dare you minimize the finished work of of our Lord?!

CC members have told us that they choose to “emphasize obedience” in faith and practice. Why would one choose to emphasize anything? Do some passages of Scripture have more authority than others? Is the message of the Bible slanted by arbitrarily emphasizing obedience over grace, when there are over 100 passages in the New Testament that emphasize grace or faith or election as the means to salvation? (If you would like to see a comprehensive list, you may email us at mail@faithfacts.org).

Are we obedient in order to be saved or because we are saved? Doesn’t the Bible teach that people are obedient because God has already saved them (2 Cor 9:8, James 2:26, 1 Jn 2:29, 1 Jn 3:9, 1 Jn 4:7, 1 Jn 5:18)?

Perhaps a more poignant question is—Are you now free (Gal 5:1)? Or do feel like you are in bondage? Is your burden easy or light (www.freedomsring.org/fic/chap25.html )? What does God really require? While liberals think the Christian faith is a country club, does CC doctrine make it seem like a prison?

Is the message of the New Testament simply that one legal system replaced another? Please see these links from those within your own tradition and offer your comment on them: http://www.freedomsring.org/fic/chap3.html, (www.freedomsring.org/heritage/chap22.html ). Are these men possibly correct that legalism is indeed the “fatal error” of CC theology?

The CC seems to make a distinction between the “law of God” and the “law of Christ,” as if there were two law systems operating in the Bible. But isn’t it correct that the Bible teaches that “the law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul” (Psalm 19:7)? And isn’t the law of Christ described as perfect (James 1:25)? What law is then perfect—both the “law of God” and the “law of Christ,” because they are one and the same!

What source does Jesus quote when he declares, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”? Isn’t it Leviticus 19:18? Aren’t all Ten Commandments repeated or alluded to in the New Testament?

Please bear with us on some further thoughts on the Law of Christ. As Cecil Hook points out (http://www.freedomsring.org/fas/chap7.html ), an incorrect interpretation of this turns Jesus into a diabolical creature if we think of him giving us a law and then saving us from our transgressions of that law. It would be like someone pushing you down into a well, then throwing you a rope. Besides making Jesus into a nasty character, this idea is not biblical. John 3:17 says that “God sent his son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved by him.” So, whatever Paul means by the law of Christ, it is not meant to be something that condemns us! It must therefore mean that the law of Christ is a phrase that merely emphasizes or gives certainty to what Paul preaches continuously in the New Testament—that we are saved by faith in Jesus. This fact (belief in Jesus for salvation), then, is so certain that it becomes a law, like a law of logic, or a law of physics—something given us by God rather than a set of commands to be obeyed.

Do you think that only those laws that are repeated in the New Testament from the Old Testament are valid? Where is such principle of interpretation found in the Bible? We think that the better method of interpretation is that there are some laws that are cancelled or their importance neutralized in the New Testment (specifically the Jewish ceremonial and civil laws); the rest remain in effect (the moral laws).

Is there any new law in the New Testament, or only new forgiveness and the fulfillment of the shadows of this forgiveness found in the Old Testament? (Here are all the scriptures in the New Testament about a “new covenant” or “new law”: Mt 26:28, Lk 22:20, 1 Cor 11:25, 2 Cor 3:6, Heb 8:8-13, Heb 9:15, Heb 12:24, Gal 6:2, James 2:8-13. Do you notice a theme?)

Cecil Hook in the preceding reference link also suggests that the CC formula HEAR/BELIEVE/REPENT/CONFESS/BE BAPTIZED may be flawed, at least in the order given. Hook points out that the 3 times in Scripture that belief and repentence are coupled together in the Bible, repentance actually precedes belief! How can that be? Read his explanation. Clue: It has to do with the New Testament view of the purpose of the law.

Are we reconciled to God by what we do or by what God did to present us holy in his sight (Col 1:21-22)?

How does the CC respond to those who may accuse them of following the letter-of-the-law and not the spirit-of-the-law? For example, the Bible says we should care for widows and orphans (the letter of the law), and were astounded to hear a CC person tell us that charity should thus be limited to these groups. But Jesus gives the example of caring for the outcast and others who need help (example, the Good Samaritan) and commands us to be merciful (Mat 5:7). Is the CC attitude legalistic in this regard too, adding insult to injury to the Christian faith?

The CC has been known to define legalism as either (a) “putting human tradition above God’s commandments,” or (b) “taking one commandment out of context and twist it to make it contradict another.” Haven’t we already shown that Church of Christ theology in fact is guilty of both definitions?

Is not faith very much alive before good works are performed, and not because of good works? Christians in the historic orthodox faith thus believe that we are saved by grace through faith and strongly agree that a faith without works is dead; that is, a true saving faith will be accompanied by works. Christians also believe that faith before it has a chance to work is a saving faith—for example, the thief on the cross. The CC would have others believe that faith is dead until one rises out of the water. Thus someone on his way to be baptized could not be one whose faith is working by love. Isn’t this view therefore legalistic and contrary to Scripture?

How does one answer the following charge made by Bob Ross in his book Campbellism; It’s Histories and Heresies: “Campbellism is salvation by works because it requires one to obey—in order to be saved—a ‘gospel plan’ that in order requires (a) faith, repentance, good confession, baptism, remission of sins, and the Holy Spirit—thus requires a sacramental ordinance, and (b) requires the assistance of another person [“priest”] and thus the obedience of the one assisting.” Is this construct a tradition of man rather a commandment of God?

Christians throughout the ages have pointed out that Christianity is uniquely different from all other religions and cults because salvation is through faith and not through works. Can you see that the view of salvation through works puts the CC in close company with false religions and cults? While we are not saying the the Church of Christ is a cult, we cannot help pointing out the similarities between the Church of Christ and Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons:

They were founded at about the same time (early 1800’s) in reaction to Reformed theology.

The refusal to read “apostate” literature. (If the Church of Christ reader has refused to read the links we have provided in this article, our point is proven.)

God’s grace through Christ’s finished work on the cross only makes up the small portion left out by my man’s own meritorious works toward salvation. (See Christian Grace vs. Mormon Grace. See also Mormon document Grace vs. Works. Note how craftily this Mormon document quotes the Bible as well as Christian thinkers.)

Their group restored the true faith. (See Mormon document Restoration of the Gospel.)

Their group is the only one saved.

Isn’t salvation not of him who willeth, nor him that runneth, but of God that calleth (Rom 9:11) and of God that showeth mercy (Rom 9:16)? Isn’t believing itself the work that God requires (Jn 6:28, 29, 40)?

Here is a single question that may quicky determine whether the CC is in fact legalistic: If it would bring more people to your church to hear the gospel, would you allow instrumental music?

We suggest reading an article by John Marks Hicks of David Lipscomb University: Legalism.Then, if you are a CC member, would you consider taking this Legalism Questionnaire?
The Relationship of Faith and Works in Justification

We have attempted above to show above that the Church of Christ hermeneutic of of legalistic patternism is flawed. So how should the Bible be interpreted? Because this is so crucial, we repeat. First and foremost the Bible must be interpreted in such a way as not to be contradictory. If the Bible is contradictory, it cannot be God’s word. Let us examine a statement made to us by a Church of Christ preacher regarding justification (how we are saved):

“I completely teach, believe, and agree with this idea: No person who has ever lived, is living, or will live, can in and of himself do something by which he earns, merits, deserves, or is given salvation. Every person, however, who hears and does what God has said to do in the way that God has said to do it will be saved by the grace of God through the blood of Christ.”

Is it not clear that this statement—which is typical of how CC folks state justification—is contradictory? If grace is a free gift (Rom 5:15, 16, 18; Rom 6:23), if it is unmerited favor—then God does not require ANY work in order to be saved. As Paul says in Rom 11:6, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”

St. Paul clarifies what the Church of Christ is risking in its hermeneutic. He states, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose (Gal 2:20).” This is serious. By its legalistic patternism hermeneutic, the Church of Christ is nullifying the grace of God! It is giving too much credit for sinful man and too little credit to God and Christ’s finished work on the cross. As put by C. K. Moser, “If man must still work for salvation we have in Christ an atonement that does not atone!” See Moser.

We fully understand how difficult the concept—that our salvation is completely by Christ’s work and none of our own—is. This is incomprehensible for our Church of Christ brothers and so too for Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Jews, and every other religion. Yet the Bible insists over and over again that we are saved by faith and specifically not by our works (Romans chapters 1-9, Galatians chapters 1-3, Ephesians 2, Titus 3, etc). In fact, we count over 100 instances in the New Testament when it is stated that we are saved by grace rather than works. Yet the Bible commands us to obey! So how do we reconcile faith and works?

We have asked the CC why they keep coming back to James 2 in an attempt to show that salvation is through works, and the answer has been, because others “keep denying what it clearly teaches.” This answer implies that, in spite of insisting elsewhere that we are not saved by works, that in fact the CC really believes after all that we are. Is James contradicting the rest of the Bible? Perhaps we just can’t get it, but it seems clear to us that James himself is teaching that works are merely evidence of a true saving faith—that is, explanatory of the kind of faith that saves us?

In James 2:14 in the Greek there is a modifying adjective in front of “faith” which is left out in the King James translation, but is translated in other versions as “the” or “that” or “such.” So James is asking here, “Can such a faith save? Or, “Can that faith save?” Notice also that James does not deny that faith justifies; he simply says, “and not by faith only.” So James acknowledges that it is indeed faith that justifies. Most theologians down through the ages have insisted that the way to reconcile the biblical message of faith and works is to explain that works describe a true saving faith but do not save unto themselves?

James gives us the clues we need. First of all, James makes it clear how futile it is to think that we can be saved by our works. He insists that even one single sin on our part is equivalent to breaking the entire law (James 2:10)!

Then in verse 14 he asks an explanatory question whether a dead faith can save us? (Can that faith or such a faith save us?) Of course he means, no it cannot. Then in verse 18 he says that a living saving faith is shown by our works. So James is not saying that we are saved by works, rather our obedience is evidence of a legitimate faith.

So, there is, then, a simple way to reconcile faith and works in a way that is faithful to Scripture without making Scripture contradict itself. We are saved by a living faith—that is, one which expresses itself in obedience. Note that this is very different from saying that we are saved by faith plus works or any such construction. We are saved by grace through faith, not of works can we boast.

So what about the term obey the gospel (Rom 10:16; 2 Thes 1:8; 2 Pet 4:17)? The word for obey (Greek hupakouo) is defined in Strong’s Concordance as “to hear under (as a subordinate), i.e. to listen attentively; by impl. to heed or conform to a command or authority—hearken, be obedient to, obey” (emphasis ours). Paul is saying in the 3 instances, something like a parent would warn a wayward child, “Now listen up, buster, and listen up good! I am telling you the truth.” There is an implied result of the listening, but that is not what is being said.

This concept of “obeying the gospel” is similar to the concept of believing in Jesus. The English word translated in is the Greek word eis. This word is more correctly translated into. So John 3:16 would be correctly translated “whoever believes into Jesus will not perish but have eternal life.” But English does not have an idiom to believe into. So it is translated believe in Jesus. But it carries an implication that when you believe in Jesus you will not have mere intellectual assent, but you will put your trust in him.

So the English translation gives too little weight to the actual meaning of the word eis, but overstates the meaning of hupakouo. For both words obedience is the implied outcome for whoever believes in Jesus and the good news of the gospel, but it is not the first or primary meaning.

Obedience is the result of our hearing and believing. Thus the implication of these statements in the Bible is that we are to hear (listen attentively) and believe in Jesus so deeply that we will surrender our lives to him. Many Christians have a shallow view of what it means to believe. But this still does not mean that we are saved by our works. Obedience does not save us. We are saved by God’s free gift through the means of a living faith.

C. K. Moser gives several biblical examples of how it is faith that saves, regardless of whether or not that faith is expressed in some sort of action. He cites the stories of Jesus healing the blind in John 9 and Matthew 9. In one case, the blind man did something—washed in the pool of Siloam. In the other case, nothing was done done other than what Jesus did. Moser asks, “Were these blind men cured upon different principles? In both cases the blind received sight upon the principle of faith in Christ. In one case faith expressed by overt acts, in the other case it was not. After all it is faith that the Lord wants….Faith expressed remains faith.” (See Moser.)

What about repentance—isn’t that a work? First of all, we concur that without repentance the sinner cannot be saved. Moser continues, “But salvation is by faith. Repentance, then, must in some way relate to faith. And it must relate to faith in such a way as not to oppose it.” We argue that repentance is merely the flip side of faith. If you turn to Jesus you will by definition turn from your life of sin and selfishness. You will automatically repudiate your fleshly nature. This is the deep meaning of repentance. So, repentance is technically not a work per se. It is part of surrendering to Jesus that occurs at the point of a living faith. After we are saved by faith, we begin to show outward confirming acts such as confession and good works because of our gratitude for what God has done for us. Confession is faith expressed in words (Romans 10:9). Again, it is the faith that saves, not any expression of it.

What about baptism? Isn’t it a work? Just as repentance is technically not a “work” of man, baptism is technically, according to Titus 3:4-7, not a work of man either! Baptism is a work of God! This leads us into the next section. But before that, one last word. If we are wrong in this, our error is putting too high a view on God and his work (and too low a view on our own work). If the Church of Christ is wrong on justification, your error is putting too low a view on Jesus (and too high a view on man’s work)!

http://www.faithfacts.org/world-religions-and-theology/church-of-christ

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Is Baptism Essential For Salvation ? Representatives of Classic Christianity Debate with

Dr. James Bjornstad & Rev. David Kingdon affirm that: Remission of sins is obtained by Faith Alone before and apart from Baptism.

Church of Christ Representatives : A Penitent believer must be baptized in order to receive remission of his sins.

 

 

Church of Christ
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Church of Christ may refer to:

  • one of several New Testament designations for a local band of people following the teachings of Jesus, whom they believed to be the Christ; only the plural form is found in the NT (e.g., Romans 16:16)
  • the entire body of Christians throughout the world, regardless of denomination or tradition
  • a body of Christians who continue to use only the New Testament as the source for Christian doctrine and practice and who consider themselves to be part of the original church (in contrast to Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant churches)
  • the Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic churches (primarily used by members of these churches)
  • a number of Restorationist churches:

Church bodies influenced by the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement:
Churches of Christ
Churches of Christ in Australia
Fellowship of Churches of Christ based in the United Kingdom
Associated Churches of Christ in New Zealand
Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ
International Churches of Christ, an offshoot of the Churches of Christ
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
The churches of Christ (non-institutional)

Denominations with a shared heritage in the Latter Day Saint movement, which include:
Church of Christ (Latter Day Saints), the original name of the first Latter Day Saint church, founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr.
Church of Christ (Temple Lot), a Latter Day Saint denomination based in Independence, Missouri
Church of Christ with the Elijah Message, which broke away from the Temple Lot church in 1929
Church of Christ (Whitmerite), an extinct Latter Day Saint denomination
Church of Christ (Brewsterite), an extinct Latter Day Saint denomination
Church of Christ (Parrishite), an extinct Latter Day Saint denomination
Latter Day Church of Christ, a Mormon fundamentalist denomination based in Utah
Latter Day Church of Christ with Signs and Wonders, a Mormon fundamentalist denomination based in Indiana

And other denominations called the Church of Jesus Christ
United Church of Christ, a mainline Protestant denomination in the United States formed in 1957
United Church of Christ – Congregational in the Marshall Islands, the largest religious group in the Marshall Islands
Church of Christ, Scientist, also known as Christian Science
Church of Christ in Congo, the administrative and spiritual union of denominations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Iglesia ni Cristo (Filipino translation for “Church of Christ”), a denomination originating in the Philippines
Church of Christ, Instrumental, also known as the Kelleyites, a Baptist denomination in Arkansas

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Christ

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Is Baptism Essential To Salvation?

by baptismalregenerationheresy.com

There are many churches and individuals who believe that people must be baptized in water in order for them to be saved from their sins and go to Heaven when they die. Some churches teach that baptism is essential to salvation. Those churches generally believe that anyone who trusts Jesus, but does not also get baptized in water before they die, must then go to Hell, because they did not perform the “good work” of getting baptized that they might be saved thereby.

Churches believing that baptism is essential to salvation tend to de-emphasize the Blood of Christ as an all-sufficient payment for sin. Instead, they believe that the blood of Jesus is not really sufficient to “cleanse us from all sin”. (See I John 1:9). Instead, they believe that salvation must be obtained through both the good work of Christ on the cross, and through the good work of man in baptism. People who hold to this false doctrine believe that Man therefore becomes a “co-redeemer” together with Christ. They believe in salvation by the grace of God plus the works of man. This is the erroneous belief that Jesus and man both work together to pay for sin, a doctrine also taught by the Popes of the Roman Catholic Church.

One of the most well-known churches teaching that baptism is essential to salvation is the “Church of Christ”. I once heard a man say that he knew of a preacher who was raised in the Church of Christ and stayed in the Church of Christ all of his life. Nevertheless, even though he was a preacher in the Church of Christ, on his death bed he wanted to be baptized “once again”, just to “be sure” that he would go to Heaven instead of going to Hell when he died.

Those churches believing that baptism is essential to salvation often use such verses as Acts 2:38 to support this point of view. This view of baptism held by the Church of Christ can be traced to its founder, Alexander Campbell. Alexander Campbell once said that, “Immersion is that act by which our state is changed” The idea that baptism itself saves, (instead of Jesus alone saving us from our sins through His own redeeming blood shed on the cross), is called “baptismal regeneration”.

The act of baptism is actually a picture of what should have already happened in the lives of believers before they were baptized. Namely, that they have already been forgiven for their sins and therefore they have already been made ready for Heaven by trusting Jesus alone for salvation. This then brings up an interesting question: If all of their sins were already forgiven before they were baptized, then how can there be any sins left over for baptism itself to “forgive” or wash away? Also, which sin will they be sent to Hell for, if someone had trusted Jesus, but then died before getting baptized?

I was baptized a few times before I was actually saved. In fact, all that happened to me on those occasions was that I got wet. I was not saved by getting baptized. When I did get saved by trusting Jesus alone for my salvation, I was e again baptized — but this time out of obedience to Christ! Since I had already been saved, I had no need to try to earn my own salvation by my own good work of baptism. Jesus had already saved me. Jesus did all the saving. It was all Christ.

I once knew of a lady who desired to be baptized. When she was baptized and came up out of the water, she praised God that she was now saved. What she meant, of course, was that she was lost in sin before going down into the water. She was trying to save herself by her own good work of baptism. Needless to say, this woman very quickly fell back into the world and back into sin, proving that she was never truly converted in the first place. Her baptism, (which was an act of “salvation by works”), did not save her from her sin.

The idea of salvation by works dates all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Cain, the son of Adam, brought an offering of vegetables to God – his attempt at “salvation by works”. Nevertheless, God wanted blood, not the “good works” of fallen man. Cain’s offering of works was therefore rejected by God. The fact is, men and women often want to give their “salvation by works” offerings to God, just as Cain once tried to do. They do not want to trust Jesus alone to save them by His blood. This “total depravity” of man in rejecting God’s way of salvation by grace, helps to explain why there are hundreds of religions in the world today which provide various forms of “salvation by works”. Jesus said:

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:” (Matt. 7:13)

Most people try to be saved by their good works, such as by the good work of baptism. God’s way for you to be saved is by His grace through faith in Jesus’ blood alone, which Jesus shed outside Jerusalem at Calvary to pay for your sins. The Bible says:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)

“…the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (I John 1:7)

Have you trusted Jesus alone to save you from your sins? If you are trusting Jesus plus anything else to save you, then this proves that you have never actually been converted. You are still on the road to Hell. Trust Jesus alone to save you before it is too late. Eternity is a very long time, and Hell is very, very hot. Trust Jesus today!

***The Only Way to God***

http://www.baptismalregenerationheresy.com/

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Church of Christ Cult

by David J. Stewart

The Church of Christ is a false religion because it is wrong on the essential Biblical plan of salvation. In fact, many Church of Christ ministers have taught that the Church of Christ group is the true church of Christ, and no one else is. They even go as far as to claim that people who haven’t been baptized by a Church of Christ preacher will go to Hell. I distinctly recall a discussion I once had with a Church of Christ minister. He was arrogant, doctrinally corrupt, and unsaved. He believed that for a person to be saved, they had to have faith, repent of sins, and be baptized. Well, that’s two items too many! The only thing that God requires of men to be saved is faith alone in Christ.

“Repent” in the Bible, concerning salvation, simply means “a change of mind,” not the forsaking of one’s sins. The forsaking of one’s sins is a result of growing in grace, which often takes many years, as a believer grows in the Lord. One does not have to surrender anything to the Lord to be saved, BUT, simply believe upon the Lord (Acts 16:31). The only thing that a person needs to repent of to be saved is their unbelief. Salvation is a free gift (Romans 5:15). A “gift” has no strings attached. Many preachers have developed the bad habit of requiring people to walk down to the front of the church to be saved; BUT, that is a work not required by God. Why does a person need to walk down to the front of the church? Can’t they be saved in their pew? Of course they can! If you’ll simply believe upon Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and save you, then you will go to Heaven when you die (John 14:6; Romans 10:13).

2nd Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Carefully notice the phrase, “if any man be in Christ…” The change comes AFTER a person is saved, not as a requirement to be saved. Salvation is like picking an old soda can out of the garbage. You’ve saved it, but it hasn’t been recycled (converted) yet. Likewise, God pulls us out of the garbage when He saves us; BUT, now He must recycle us into His image. Christian growth in grace is not required to go to Heaven. I know this shocks many self-righteous religious people; but it’s Biblical (John 3:3; Romans 4:3-5; Ephesians 2:8,9). If you trust Jesus Christ as your Saviour, you’re going to Heaven, whether you grow in the Lord or not while on earth. There are some lousy Christians in this world, but that doesn’t mean they’re not saved. King David was an adulterer, murderer, and crook; BUT, he only lost the joy of salvation, not salvation itself. Such rebellious believers will give account at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

‘Baptismal Regeneration’ is Unbiblical

Church of Christ members teach that baptism is required for salvation, but it is not. They believe that obedience is a part of salvation. However, the only thing which we must obey to be saved is the Gospel, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” There is nothing in the Bible which requires a person to be baptized in order to be saved. On the contrary, we read in John 3:18, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” One who has trusted in Christ is saved, not condemned, whether he has been baptized or not. John 11:25, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” There is no mention in this verse concerning baptism. Or what about John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” Again, there is no mention of being baptized to be saved. There are hundreds of New Testament references which mention faith in Christ, without baptism being mentioned. Clearly, it is faith alone in Christ which saves a person, without baptism. The Church of Christ cult teaches damnable heresies by ADDING requirements which God didn’t add.

A careful study of the Scriptures with an honest heart makes it quite clear that works CANNOT save a person, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified IN HIS SIGHT: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” One cannot be justified in the sight of God by WORKS. When James spoke of being justified by works, he clearly stated…

“Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: SHEW ME thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

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James was speaking about being justified in the SIGHT OF MEN. 1st Samuel 16:7 tells us why, “…for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” Man cannot see our heart’s faith, so he looks at our works instead. However, God can see our heart, and it is all that He looks at. It is true that faith without works is dead; BUT, it is equally true that salvation (justification in the sight of God), comes by faith, without works. Romans 4:6 states, “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” Baptism is a work, that if added to faith in Christ, will send a man to Hell forever.

Faith + any work = NO faith at all

“Baptismal regeneration” is simply the heretical teaching that one must be baptised in order to be saved. It is a Satanic doctrine, which is responsible for sending billions to Hell. The Catholic Church REQUIRES it’s members to be baptized in order to go to Heaven. So does the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutherans, Eastern Orthodox, etc. Jesus NEVER told anyone to get baptized to be saved. No one in the Old Testament was ever baptized; yet, we read that Abraham was justified by faith, without works (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3-5).

Conclusion

Please leave the Church of Christ cult if you’ve been entangled in their doctrinal trap. They also deny the existence of a literal Heaven, the millennial reign of Christ, the Rapture, and many other fundamental Bible teachings. The Church of Christ is bad news!!! They focus on baptism so much that the plain Biblical plan of salvation is obscured; thus, they have churchianity without Christianity. So many people go through the rituals and ceremonies of religion, but they never become born-again believers. They join a church, get baptized, sing in a choir, tithe, go through the motions; BUT, they don’t know Jesus Christ as Saviour. They go through the outward form of religion, thinking that they are obeying God’s plan of salvation; BUT, they do not have the change of heart, because they are trusting the church and the form and the ceremony and holding out faithful and many other works of men, instead of depending solely on Jesus Christ. Psalm 118:8 declares, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” I say to the Church of Christ the same thing which the Apostle Paul said to the church at Galatia, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth”? (Galatians 3:1). O foolish Church of Christ, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth? You have erred after another Gospel (Galatians 1:6). The Biblical Gospel does NOT require baptism to be saved, nor does it require a person to forsake their sins. Such actions are “works,” and then God would owe us salvation, which is unbiblical (Romans 4:4-5). Salvation is of God, paid for by the precious blood of Jesus. Our responsibility is to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16:31)–and that’s it!

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Acts 2:38   Satan’s Favorite Bible Verse!  By James L. Melton

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)

The above verse of scripture is a favorite among many religious groups. One can hear it several times on Sunday morning radio programs, as well as from the pulpits of numerous groups, and it can be found in much religious literature. The verse is a favorite because, on the surface, it seemingly states that one must be baptized in order to be saved, and without baptism one is not saved. So, those who believe that water baptism is essential for salvation make it a regular habit of using Acts 2:38 as scriptural support.

The problem is that Acts 2:38 isn’t the only verse in the Bible which deals with salvation. While many claim to “speak where the scriptures speak and remain silent where the scriptures are silent,” they practically ignore most of the New Testament teaching on salvation. The only verses that such false teachers quote and reference are the ones they feel they can use to promote their “water gospel.” The fact is that most of what the New Testament says about salvation doesn’t include baptism at all! (John 5:24, John 11:25-26, John 14:6, Romans 4:5, Romans 10:9-13, Eph. 2:8-9, etc.), and the few places that do mention water baptism do not include it as part of one’s salvation. Water baptism follows salvation as one of the first steps of obedience for the new believer.

In spite of this obvious truth, the cultists remain steadfast in their heresy, insisting that Acts 2:38 sets forth water baptism as a requirement for salvation. Thus, this verse of scripture has become Satan’s favorite Bible verse. In fact, many are trusting water baptism alone for the salvation of their souls! Indeed, Satan has deceived multitudes by his perversion of Acts 2:38.

Rather than ignore Acts 2:38 by quoting “our favorite verses” instead, it is more appropriate to face this popular verse of scripture and see if the cultists are right in what they claim it teaches.

The Truth about Acts 2:38

First, please notice that verse 38 isn’t the only verse in Acts 2. In Peter’s message, a great deal was said before verse 38 came out of his mouth. In fact, he even told his listeners how to be saved before verse 38! In Acts 2:21, Peter quotes from Joel 2 and says, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” His words preceding verse 38 were so convicting that his listeners were “pricked in their heart” in verse 37. So, to use verse 38 out of its context causes a misrepresentation of God’s word. The verse does not stand alone, and, in fact, a totally different meaning is conveyed when one makes it stand alone.

Another error that many make with Acts 2:38 is the error of assumption. It is assumed that the word “for” must mean “in order to get.” That is, being baptized “for” the remission of sins supposedly means to be baptized “in order to get” remission of sins. However, a closer look at the scriptures will reveal that this isn’t the case at all.

Notice Luke 5:12-14: “And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” Jesus made this man clean in verse 13, yet in the next verse, verse 14, Jesus tells him to go offer a sacrifice “for thy cleansing” as a “testimony.” Here the word “for” cannot mean “in order to get” because he had already gotten his cleansing in verse 13! It obviously meant “because of” his cleansing. If a man goes to jail “for stealing,” then he goes there “because of” the stealing that he’s already done, not “in order to get” a chance to steal again.

Some like to argue that the Greek word “eis” means “in order to,” but this isn’t always the case. Jesus said in Matthew 12:41, “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at (eis) the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” The Greek word for “at” is “eis.” Does this mean that the men of Nineveh repented “in order to get” the preaching of Jonah? No, they repented “because of” the preaching of Jonah. So, even “the Greek” doesn’t demand the popular interpretation of Acts 2:38. The word “for” can be used different ways, not just one, so it is wrong to assume that it must mean “in order to get” in Acts 2:38.

Another factor which is commonly ignored is the JEWISH factor. Every person in Acts 2 is a Mosaic law observing Old Testament Jew. In fact, they are all gathered together to observe a JEWISH FEAST called Pentecost (verse 1). A fair reading of the whole chapter (especially verses 4, 14, and 36) will clearly reveal that no Gentiles (non Jews) are present. Since this involves Jews, it involves a NATION (verse 36!!), not individuals. No one asked, “What must I do to be saved?” The question asked concerned the NATION of Israel: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (verse 37) Not, “What shall I do,” but rather, “What shall WE do?” Acts 2 presents a NATION of people who come to realize that they have murdered their blessed Messiah and they’re asking what THEY must do. It’s a question concerning NATIONAL salvation. Isaiah 66:8 says, “. . . shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” The “nation” is Israel! Romans 11:26 says, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” Acts 2:38 is dealing with NATIONAL salvation. The Messianic Kingdom is still available to the Jews (until Acts 7:60 when they kill Stephen), so national salvation remains an issue until then.

This is clear from what follows Acts 7. In Acts 8, an individual from Africa is saved (before baptism). In Acts 9, an individual from Asia is saved (before baptism). In Acts 10, an individual from Europe is saved (before baptism). Why didn’t these individual conversions occur before Acts 7? Because the first seven chapter of Acts deal with Israel (1:6-8; 2:36; 3:12; 4:8-10; 5:31; 6:7-14; 7:1-60). The question of INDIVIDUAL salvation is asked and answered in Acts 16:30-31: “. . . Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Those who fail to make this distinction are guilty of violating II Timothy 2:15 where we are told to RIGHTLY DIVIDE the word of truth.

The Bible says the gospel is to go to the Jew FIRST (Rom. 1:16), so they are the FIRST to receive the gospel in the book of Acts (chapter 2), but they are not the last to receive it. Acts doesn’t end with chapter 2, so we should be cautious of anyone who develops their doctrine in Acts 2 while practically ignoring the next 26 chapters! If God didn’t stop in Acts 2, then why does anyone else? Could it be that the later chapters in Acts contain information which the cultists want hidden from us? Could it be that there are other scriptures in Acts which do not agree with the wording of Acts 2:38? Could it be that Peter himself, the one preaching in Acts 2:38, says something different when speaking to individual Gentiles like you and me? One only has to read Acts chapter 10 to get the answer. Peter is preaching again in Acts 10, except only to individual Gentiles, and something very interesting occurs. In Acts 2:38, the Holy Ghost was promised to be given to the converts AFTER they were baptized, yet in Acts 10:44 the Holy Ghost falls upon the Gentiles BEFORE they are baptized! Now, Paul tells us in Romans 8:9, ” . . .if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Having God’s Spirit is synonymous with belonging to God or being saved (John 3:6-8), so the Gentiles in Acts 10 were saved BEFORE they were baptized in water. Why don’t the Acts 2:38 cultists ever point this out? Answer: It destroys their perverted doctrine that water baptism is essential for salvation.

The fact is that Acts 2:38 is NOT the “model” plan of salvation, nor are any of the other “water verses” which the cultists use. Only by taking such verses out of their context can one teach such heresy. All of the Bible is true, not just the favorite “proof texts” of the cults. Baptism saves no one. It only serves as a testimonial picture of the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ AFTER one has believed on Christ (Acts 8:36-38). Paul said in I Corinthians 1:17 that “. . . Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” This “gospel” is defined by Paul in I Corinthians 15:1-4, and it does NOT include water baptism. The dying thief was not baptized, yet Jesus saved him (Luke 23:42-43), and John wrote that we are washed in the BLOOD of Christ (Rev. 1:5), not in the water. In fact, the saints in Heaven claim to have gotten there by the blood of Jesus (Rev. 5:9), not by water. By faith in the blood of Jesus Christ one is saved (Rom. 3:25). Water baptism only follows this faith as an outward step of obedience.

Friend, if you have fallen for the water gospel, why not repent of your sin and trust Jesus Christ alone? Acts 10:43 says, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Why not believe on Christ 100% right now and quit trusting something you DO for salvation? “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:1) Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Why not right now?

Copyright © 2000 James L. Melton

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Church of Christ Heresies! DANGER: Wolves in the Sheep Pen!

by David J. Stewart

Baptismal Regeneration?

Church of God followers do NOT believe in simple FAITH in Jesus Christ to be saved; on the contrary, they most definitely demand that BAPTISM be added for one to be saved. I spoke at length recently with a Church of God minister who earned his degree from the Dallas Christian College. Dallas Christian College DOESN’T make it clear at all that they are indeed a Church of Christ college. Why are they deceptive about who they really are? What are they afraid to tell people? Click on their “Our Mission” link and see if Church of Christ is mentioned. It is NOT! By all indications, many Christian people would ignorantly think this was a great college to attend, but it certainly is NOT! It looks innocent enough on the surface doesn’t it? That’s the disguise they want you to see. I went to visit their website to read their statement of faith; as I suspected, it was vague. But as clever as the person tried to be who devised this statement of faith, it couldn’t escape the discernment of a spirit-filled believer, knowledgeable in the Word of God. The following quote is taken from their statement of faith:

“…the Church of the New Testament ought everywhere to be restored with its divine plan of admission: faith, repentance, and baptism…”

Did you read that? Did you see the heresy? Is baptism necessary for admission into the Church? No sir! The very moment you trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, asking Him to forgive your sins and come into your heart, you have been born-again and are a member of the body of Christ. Any fool who tells you that you have to be baptized to become a member of the church is LYING to you! Isn’t it something how misguided ministers will force you to get baptized to join THEIR church, but God accepts ANY repentant sinner into heaven. You do NOT have to be affiliated with any church, religious group or denomination to go to heaven -You just need Jesus! Jesus Himself proclaimed in John 14:6 that He was the ONLY way to the Father. John 10:9 clearly declares that Jesus Christ is the DOOR by which men and women enter into heaven. John 6:40 teaches that the will of God is to believe upon Christ.

As I spoke with this sincerely misguided minister, he explained the following order to me as being necessary for salvation:

HEAR

BELIEVE

REPENT

CONFESS

BAPTISM (uh oh! This is damnable heresy!)

I would agree with him up to the confession part, but not baptism!

“Repentance” is a turnaround (a change of mind about sin and God), not necessarily the departing from one’s sins. You DON’T have to give up your sins to be saved, you need to give up your unbelief. If we did have to give up our sins to be saved, then NO one could ever be saved because we are all sinners. Howbeit, the “godly sorrow” which brings repentance should result in a sincere desire to clean up our life with God’s help (2nd Corinthians 7:10).

“Confess” simply means “to admit the same thing as God.” God says we are sinners, and we must agree with that to be saved. God says we deserve to go to hell, and we must agree with that to be saved. God says that He sent His only begotten Son (Jesus Christ) into the world to pay for our sins, and we must agree with this to be saved.

But the baptism issue was an insurmountable barrier in our conversation, a Pandora’s box. He was adamant that Baptism was essential for a person to enter heaven. This of course is a lie of the devil, pure heresy! Though he condemns the Catholic religion for their teaching of “works” salvation through the keeping of the Seven Sacraments, he is utterly blinded to his own foolish perceptions about baptism. I flat out asked him what would happen to a person who made it to step 4, but didn’t get baptized at step 5? He honestly replied that he did NOT know! He stressed the fact that he felt SAFER by ADDING that extra step of baptism to his faith. Unfortunately, that is a sure road to hell-fire and destruction.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” -Proverb 14:12

Faith in Christ ALONE equals salvation!

Faith in Christ PLUS anything equals hell!

If I said that I believed I could trust you with my money, that would NOT be faith (that would be optimism). If I entrust you with my money and ask someone to follow you (to keep an eye on you), that is NOT faith either. If I entrust you with my money and don’t take ANY precautions whatsoever, that is 100% faith. To add baptism to faith is to add a “work” to faith; consequently, it is NO faith at all. You don’t need much faith to be saved, you need “just enough” faith. You need JUST ENOUGH faith to obey Romans 10:13 and “call upon the name of the Lord.” If you have faith even as small as a grain of mustard seed (a VERY small seed indeed), that is all the faith you need. The AMOUNT of one’s faith is not of importance for salvation, what is important is that you simply HAVE FAITH. Either you have 100% faith or you do not. The Church of Christ minister I was speaking with told me that he felt much safer by adding that extra step of baptism to his faith and repentance. How stupid! How foolish! How woefully ignorant is he of the Word of God. The Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 1:17 declared…

“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel…” -1st Corinthians 1:17

According to the Church of Christ minister, Paul was sent by Christ to TEACH the gospel, but not to actually do any of the REQUIRED baptism to be saved. He claims this was done to prevent division in the church. True, Paul didn’t want to baptize any of them because of their immature quarreling; however, this had absolutely nothing to do with their salvation. Some of the believers in the Corinthian church were actually fighting over who baptized them. They were making an issue of a non-issue. Paul lays the issue to rest by proclaiming that CHRIST did NOT send him to baptize, but to preach the gospel. It is our FAITH in the gospel of Jesus that saves us, NOT baptism.

I could go on and on about why baptism is NOT necessary for salvation. No one in the Old Testament was ever baptized. These people who claim that the Old Testament is invalid are idiots. Of course, the law which was against us was indeed nailed to the cross. Yes, the Jewish ceremonial laws are gone. However, we are still expected by God to obey the Nine Commandments (NOT to be saved, but because we are saved and love Jesus). People in the Old Testament (old contract) were saved the SAME way people are saved today, BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS (Ephesians 2:8, 9). There is NO other way to be saved! It’s Jesus or hell, turn or burn friend!

Don’t let some misguided individual trick you into believing that baptism is essential for salvation. The Church of Christ minister claimed that since the New Testament didn’t actually begin until Jesus died, that the thief on the cross didn’t have to be baptized. He is trying to say that there are TWO different plans of salvation (one for the OT and one for the NT). He believes that baptism was NOT required for Old Testament saints, but IS required for all New Testament saints. This is ludicrous and preposterous!!!! There is NO such teaching in the Bible. There has always been ONE and only one plan of salvation, and that is through the precious shed blood of our Dear Lord Jesus Christ! Do you want to be saved? Then look upon Jesus ye ends of the earth and be ye saved (Isaiah 45:22).

I asked the minister what would happen if an astronaut placed his faith in Christ while in outer space? Obviously he couldn’t get baptized in space! His answer was another mere, “I don’t know.” How pathetic!!! How can a man go to a supposed Bible college for four years and earn a degree in theology, just to tell me that he doesn’t know how a person in outer space could be saved! I’ll tell you why! Because the whole doctrine of baptismal regeneration is flawed and makes no Biblical sense. He might as well become a Lutheran or a Catholic to believe that garbage. Baptismal regeneration is of the devil. Jesus didn’t baptize (John 4:2). In the book of Romans, baptism is only mentioned briefly in chapter six. Paul NEVER makes any direct command to be baptized! Yet, Paul expresses in Romans 10:1 that it is his “HEARTS DESIRE” for the people to be saved. Paul wanted people to be saved, that is why he went publicly from house-to-house in Acts 20:20 to witness to people. We soul-winners call this the “Acts 20/20 vision.” In other words, if your consumed about winning souls to Christ, then your seeing 20/20 as a Christian. Most believers are wearing blinders.

No Rapture or Millennium?

The Church of Christ minister also said he DIDN’T believe in any type of rapture, but that the Lord would simply return and part the righteous from the wicked. We are clearly taught in God’s Word that there will be a “departure” of the saints from this world; hence, the word rapture (which is not itself found in the Bible). The words of the Apostle Paul in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 are as clear as can be. In the twinkling of an eye, the Lord WILL return. Read it for yourself. Why can’t people just take the Bible at face value? Why do they persist to read in-between the lines? Why do they seek for things that God has NOT placed in the Bible? Luke 17:36 is still in the King James Bible folks! Matthew 24:41 is still in the Bible! Two shall be, and one shall remain! This foolish minister also said he didn’t believe there would be a Millennial reign of Christ. Revelation 20:1-6 speaks of the 1,000 year millennium. The purpose of this article is NOT to get into depth of these individual Bible doctrines, but rather to expose the heretical teachings of the Church of Christ. A study of Biblical prophecy is beyond the scope of this article. The Bible is very clear concerning the departure of the saints from this world (the rapture) and of the Millennial reign of Christ from Jerusalem over the earth. Satan will be bound and imprisoned in the bottomless pit for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:3).

No Eternal Security?

The Church of Christ minister also said that he believed a saved person COULD lose their salvation if they got away from fellowship with the Lord. I asked him if all Church of Christ followers believed the same doctrines he did and he affirmed, YES. He laughed in my face when I told him that the Bible was clear that a saved person could NEVER lose their salvation. I mean, Jesus told Nicodemus to be “born again,” NOT born again and again and again and again! Revelation 3:20 is an invitation for us to open the door of our heart to allow the Lord Jesus to come in (John 14:23). Church of Christ folks evidently have a problem with Christians who are less than perfect. The minister was perplexed when I told him that a Christian could commit murder and still be saved. He almost became angry. His problem is that he has a WRONG view of salvation (which is why I believe he is NOT really saved). The Church of Christ has a wrong view of salvation! The truth is that we DO NOTHING to earn salvation! If we can’t do any good works to get saved, then why would doing any bad works make us unsaved? I like that statement so I’ll say it again…

If we can’t do any good works to get saved, then why would doing any bad works make us unsaved?

I did nothing to get saved of my own merit. All I did was place my faith in the Lord’s work of atonement. It is Jesus Christ and what He did to pay for my sins that gets me into heaven, I had nothing to do with that. Salvation is OF GOD, not man! So then why in the world would anyone conclude that a person has to maintain a certain level of fellowship or righteousness with God to keep one’s salvation? It is no less than a WORKS religion! The Church of Christ is ADDING works to simple faith in Christ! They teach that you MUST be baptized to be saved! They teach that you MUST keep coming back to the Lord (to get your salvation back) every time you get away from the Lord. Listen folks, there is NOTHING in the Bible which teaches that we can fall from grace as believers. When the Bible speaks of “falling from grace” it is simply talking about unsaved people who have rejected Christ. Jesus is the ONLY way to heaven! If you reject Jesus, then you have missed your ONLY buss ticket to heaven. This is the only way to fall from God’s grace.

You CANNOT lose your salvation!!! If someone is not saved now, then they never were to begin with. As a perfect analogy, I cannot change the relationship between my and my own child. I could disown my child (which I think is a horrible thing for ANY parent to do), but they would still be my child. Even if my child killed someone, the relationship doesn’t change one bit -that is still my child and I am still their parent. Such is this case with God! No matter what we do, we are God’s children. If you would like to KNOW your saved, Click Here.

No Tears in Heaven?

More heresy! This Church of Christ minister said there will be no tears in heaven. Well, he is wrong! Over and over we are warned in the Bible to be careful how we live as believers because we each shall give account to God. We are commanded to defraud not thy brother. There will be tears in heaven for those believers who lived for SELF and hurt other people while upon the earth. The blood of our loved ones will be upon our hands if we have failed to witness to them. We can’t force them to accept the truth, but we CAN love them and tell them the good news of Jesus Christ. There will be tears throughout the Millennium, but all tears shall be wiped away at the end, after the Great White Throne of Judgment. All former things will be passed away (Revelation 21:4). Being a Christian DOESN’T give us a license to sin. Though our sins are under the blood and all is well between us and God as far as our sin debt, we must still make things right with those we have wronged. Salvation balances the scale of justice between us and God, but the scales of justice must also be balanced between us and those we have victimized or hurt in ant way (Romans 12:19). The Judgment Seat of Christ is going to be a JUDGMENT only for believers, it is not going to be a joyous time for most believers. There WILL be many tears.

Heaven is Not a Physical Place?

I was really surprised when the Church of Christ minister told me that he didn’t believe in heaven as a place. He believed that heaven was only a spiritual existence, NOT a literal place. I asked him about the streets of gold and the gates of pearl, he didn’t believe they were literal. I asked him about the mansions which Jesus spoke of in John 14:1-2, he denied those also as being physical homes. I don’t know what he’s been smoking, but he sure needs to get with the program. He has been blinded by a false religion, sad but true.

In conclusion, I firmly DOUBT anyone’s salvation who ADDS baptism to a childlike faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! I also sincerely doubt the salvation of any person who feels they have to live a certain way to keep their salvation (which is a big lie). The entire MINDSET is very different when you believe you are not eternally secure. Just as the Muslims have no assurance of salvation, neither does the Church of Christ. I KNOW I am saved and NOTHING can take that from me. I CANNOT lose my salvation. So do I have a license to sin? Of course not! I don’t want to sin because I still have to give account to God someday and I already have enough to answer for. I love God and want to please Him, but I fear Him equally so. I became a new creature when I was born-again. I don’t live right to get saved, I live right because I am saved and God’s Holy Spirit lives in my heart. My Bible says that I am saved and sure! Your not just being safe by adding baptism to faith, your being stupid! I can say this because we are clearly warned throughout the Bible against adding anything to faith. Baptism is useless to get anyone saved. See Romans 11:6, Titus 3:5, and Romans 4:2. The bottom line is that Jesus Christ Himself did not make an issue of baptism! Read through the book of John and you’ll discover that Jesus is the door, the way, the truth, the life, the resurrection, the light, the Good Shepherd…but not one mention is made of baptism! Not one! The Church of Christ is a false religion, just as are the Lutherans and the Seventh-Day Adventists! ONLY through simple faith in the precious blood of Jesus Christ can any person go to heaven. It’s Jesus or hell, turn or burn! God loves you, and so do I. I welcome any further information or comments.

Kindest regards, Dave

http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Religions/Church%20of%20Christ/church_of_christ_heresies.htm

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As this blog reaches 100 post, I decided to repost the TOP 3 post.

DANGER: The Church of Christ By David J. 218

DNA proves the Book of Mormon to be fals 142

So Joel Osteen says Mormons are Christia 127

The Church of Christ is a false church. They require good works for salvation. The Church of Christ is just as dangerous as Catholicism, Jehovah’s Witness, or the Mormons, because they claim to be “Christian”; BUT they are not! Whereas religions like Islam and Black Muslim openly deny the Christian faith; the Church of Christ claims to be Christian, and so Satan uses them to seduce people into Hellfire.

The following doctrinal statement is taken directly from the Church of Christ website:

How does one become a member of the church of Christ?

In the salvation of man’s soul there are 2 necessary parts: God’s part and man’s part. God’s part is the big part, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift if God; not of works, that no man should glory” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The love which God felt for man led him to send Christ into the world to redeem man. The life and teaching of Jesus, the sacrifice on the cross, and the proclaiming of the gospel to men constitute God’s part in salvation.

Though God’s part is the big part, man’s part is also necessary if man is to reach heaven. Man must comply with the conditions of pardon which the Lord has announced. Man’s part can clearly set forth in the following steps:

Hear the Gospel. “How shall they call on him whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).

Believe. “And without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Repent of past sins. “The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent” (Acts 17:30).

Confess Jesus as Lord. “Behold here is water; What doth hinder me to be baptized ? And Philip said, if thou believeth with all thy heart thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:36-37).

Be baptized for the remission of sins. “And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Live a Christian life. “Ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

SOURCE: Who are the churches of Christ?

There is much heresy in the preceding statement.

First, salvation is of God alone, and not men. This is plainly stated in John1:12-13, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Man has no part in God’s salvation.

In Philippians 2:12 the Apostle Paul states, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Carefully notice that the Bible says “work out YOUR OWN salvation”; it does not say anything about God’s salvation. When God saves a man, it is then up to that man whether or not he is going to obey God or not. God saves us by faith, but then it is up to us to allow the Lord to live the Christian life through us. This has nothing to do with salvation. So many heretics today are trying to add holy living to faith for salvation. No sir! As we see in 1st Corinthians 5:5, some believers live in unrepentant sin; yet, they are still saved. How can this be? It’s because eternal life is a “free gift” (Romans 5:15) not conditioned upon our lifestyle. I don’t know why so many people can’t seem to grasp the concept of a GIFT.

The only part that man has in God’s salvation is to BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). In Psalm 51:12, after David had sinned horribly, we find David asking God for forgiveness… “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” David knew that salvation was of God alone… THY SALVATION!

Second, there is NOT one Scripture in the entire Bible that tells us to “repent FROM sin” to be saved. You can’t find it. The word repent in the Greek simply means “to change one’s mind.” So a person need only repent OF their sins to be sins; and NOT FROM their sins. A lost sinner only needs to realize their GUILT of sin, and condemnation under the Law of God, and their justly deserved penalty of Hellfire to be saved. The change should come LATER, after a person is saved and the Holy Spirit convicts them (2nd Corinthians 5:17).

Repentance in the Bible is always towards God… “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” According to Granville Sharp’s Rule of Greek Exegesis these events are one and the same, i.e., repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. To place your faith in the Lord to forgive your sins is repentance. You have realized your guilt of sin, and have TURNED to the Lord for salvation. This is the simplicity of God’s salvation (2nd Corinthians 11:3).

Third, confessing Jesus as Lord is very different than confessing that He is the Son of God. Yes, we must recognize Jesus as the Son of God to be saved; BUT, we certainly do not need to make Him the Lord (Master) of our life to be saved. This truth is evidenced by the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Paul calls them “brethren,” and yet they haven’t presented their bodies as a living sacrifice for the Lord yet. That is to say, they haven’t surrender their lives to God yet in Christian living. The Bible is filled with examples of Christian who ran from God, such as Jonah, Samson, Lot, and many others. Making Jesus the Lord of one’s life has nothing to do with being saved. Again, God’s salvation is a free gift, paid for by Jesus’ precious literal blood.

Fourth, Baptismal Regeneration is a lie of the Devil. The very notion that a person is required to be water baptized to go to Heaven is absurd. The Apostle John tells us in 1st John 5:13 that he wrote his Epistle “so that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life”; YET, he never mentions baptism even once in the Epistles of 1st, 2nd, or 3rd John. The Apostle Paul plainly stated that Christ did NOT send him to baptize; but rather, to preach the Gospel (1st Corinthians 1:17). No one in the Old Testament was water baptized; yet we read in Genesis 15:6 that Abraham believed God and it was COUNTED unto him for righteousness. You see friend, you need HIS Righteousness to go to Heaven.

Fifth, living a Christian life is not a prerequisite for being saved. If it were, then God would be a liar and eternal life certainly not a “free gift” as Romans 5:15 calls it. To say that a lost sinner must persevere in holy living to be saved is to spit upon the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ, to insult God, and to negate Christ’s work of redemption. Let me quote to you Romans 4:5, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Salvation is so simple. God simply asks us to believe on Jesus, i.e., He that justifieth the ungodly. Our faith by itself is counted for (or is equivalent to) a life of righteousness. This is because Jesus imputes (or places) HIS righteousness upon our eternal record the very moment that we place our sole faith in Him. The Word of God is clear… TO HIM THAT WORKETH NOT.

Conclusion

Where does the Church of Christ come up with all their heresies? They surely didn’t find them in the Bible. God said what He meant, and meant what He said. Jesus said in John 14:2, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” There is NO controversy if you believe the Bible. The Church of Christ is straight from the pits of Hell. I plead with you not to become a victim of their damnable religion.

The Word of God teaches that eternal life is a FREE GIFT (Romans 5:15; 6:23). If you keep that in mind at all times, then you’ll see right through the lying words of such false prophets as Church of Christ ministers. Eternal life is a “gift” that cannot be earned, merited, or deserved. We all deserve to burn in Hellfire for our sins; but God in His wondrous love sent Jesus Christ into the world, to pay for our sins with His own literal precious blood (1st Peter 1:18,19).

“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” —2nd Thessalonians 1:8

Ye Must Be Born Again!

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Question: “What is the Restoration movement?”

Answer: The Restoration Movement, part of the broader movement called “restorationism,” began in the early 19th Century when a conglomeration of members from different Christian groups and denominations decided they had gotten away from the basics of Christianity. Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and others abandoned their formal denominations with hopes of establishing a church based solely on the Christianity taught in the New Testament. With their belief in Jesus as the only model and the Bible as the only sacred book, they endeavored to re-establish Christ’s church as it had been during Jesus’ time. Because the different organized denominations had constructed rules and practices that did not come explicitly from the Bible, those with new ideas felt the divisions must be dissolved. Their goal was for everyone to abandon their dividing religions and become united as one church under God’s rule alone.

Among the most influential leaders of this movement were Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone. Although the fundamental views remained, in 1906 this group split. The followers of Campbell and Stone divided into two sects, called the Church of Christ (Non-Instrumental) and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Over time many additional schisms have formed from these core groups as well. Currently there are three major and several minor groups who trace their roots back to the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement: the Christian Churches/Disciples of Christ, Churches of Christ, Independent Christian Churches, Churches of Christ in Australia, Associated Churches of Christ (New Zealand), United Reformed Church (UK), and others.

Among the key principles of the Restoration Movement are:

~Recognition of the New Testament pattern of the church. Overall, the people of this movement try to pattern their practices and rituals as closely as possible to those of the New Testament. Of particular importance to them is the weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper, although there is nothing in Scripture to indicate this was a weekly function. In fact, Acts 2:46 indicates it might have been a daily ritual: “And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart” (emphasis added). In addition, Acts 2:44-45 states of the New Testament church that they also “sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” This is not a practice of the New Testament church that those in the Restoration Movement have felt led to adopt.

~Names, creeds, and ecclesiastical traditions divide believers from one another; therefore these things are renounced, doing away with creeds and human authority. While the desire for there to be nothing dividing believers is a noble one, there is no evidence that attending a Baptist or Presbyterian church divides its members from those of other churches any more than attending a Disciples of Christ church divides its members from those of other church within the Restoration Movement. The spirit of unity or disunity is a heart issue, not a matter of church affiliation. Although a key principle of the Restoration Movement is concern for Christian unity, the history of the movement is itself riddled with numerous splits, re-splits and schisms.

~Names of human origin divide, therefore they name only the name of Christ. They decry the use of denominational names, claiming to be “Christians only,” believing this approach to be the only true scriptural one. The adherents to the Restoration Movement are careful to have no other name but Christ in their church titles, believing this to be the true to the New Testament. They deny, for instance, that the name “Presbyterians” has any biblical validity, even though the name is derived from the Greek word for elder, presbytos. Thus, the name reflects its method of governance, completely in accordance with New Testament church structure. Using the name of Christ in a church title may or may not be an indication of a church’s doctrinal stand. As with any group or organization claiming to represent Christ and His church, what they believe, and how it lines up with the Bible, is of paramount importance.

When examining the Restoration Movement, of particular concern is their doctrine of salvation. According to a Christian Restoration Association publication, “What You Must Do to Become a Christian” involves four things: You must believe, repent of sin, confess Christ, and be baptized for the remission of sins. One must admit his or her sinfulness and need for forgiveness, then repent and accept Jesus as Lord of his or her life. One must then be baptized by full body immersion for the remission of sins. At this point, it is believed that one begins a new life, and is reborn. This directly contradicts the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone, without the added condition of works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Baptism is not a requirement for salvation, but is rather evidence of it. The new believer is baptized in obedience to God’s command to do so, not as a prerequisite for salvation.

Equally disturbing is the Restoration Movement belief that in order to remain a Christian, one must do four things, again according to the Christian Reformation Association: Pray, study the Bible, worship and remain faithful. If these are requirements to maintain salvation, it stands to reason according to this line of thinking, that anyone who does not continue in these four disciplines is in danger of losing his/her salvation. The Bible, however, is clear that the true believer cannot lose his/her salvation because we are saved by God (Romans 8:30), sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14),and kept by God until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). Just as once we are born, we cannot be made unborn, we have been made new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and we cannot be made old again by any means.

On the positive side, the Restoration Movement has maintained belief in the deity of Christ, unlike the rest of those in the restorationist movement. Great care must be taken, however, to avoid the exclusivist mindset which says “we alone have the right way.” Such thinking leads to pride, the ultimate cause of disunity in the church, the very thing those in the Movement seek to rectify.

http://www.gotquestions.org/Restoration-movement.html 

 

Question: “What is Restorationism?”

Answer: Restorationism refers to a group of unaffiliated 19th century movements from within Christianity based upon the premise that the true faith and practice of the church had been lost due to apostasy and that the church needed to be restored to its New Testament model. Restorationist organizations include Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Seventh-day Adventists, as well as the adherents to the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, which consists today in three main groups: Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ), Churches of Christ, and Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ.

While all these groups teach widely divergent theologies, they have in common the notion that true Christianity had died out many years ago and it needed to be restored to its original New Testament form. Some of these groups believe they alone are the embodiment of true Christianity, some going so far as to teach that all other groups, including mainline Protestant denominations, are not really Christians at all, having lost their way over the centuries to complete apostasy. They are convinced that the drift from Christian principles is so extreme as to render the church irredeemable and therefore it must be completely rebuilt. Denying that past historical patterns have any validity at all, they are free to embrace what they understand to be pure biblical truth as revealed to the Apostles.

Certainly there have been abuses and misuses of the Word of God down through the years by churches claiming to speak for Christ. One has only to look at the Roman Catholic doctrines of purgatory, prayer to Mary, and the veneration of saints—all of which are completely unscriptural—to agree that in some cases at least, church tradition has superseded the Bible as authority. However, in the spirit of throwing the baby out with the bath water, some of the restorationists have also jettisoned such biblical doctrines as the Trinity, hell, and salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Of course parts of the church have apostatized, but there has always been a remnant of the faithful preserved by God for His purposes.

At least two disastrous consequences can be expected to result from a zealous embrace of restorationist philosophy. First, it easily leads to a spirit exclusivism and arrogance, not to mention error. The natural outcome of believing one’s own group has the corner on the truth is the despising of all others who claim the name of Christ, seeing them as apostates, or worse, tools of the devil. No spirit of Christian unity can survive such a mindset. One has only to look at the diverse beliefs that exist among the restorationists themselves, and the resulting animosity that accompanies them, to see the inevitable result of adopting such a belief system. Exclusivism leads to pride, a sin especially abhorred by God (Proverbs 16:5; James 4:6). In addition, exclusivism can provoke delusions of grandeur in its leaders, making possible all manner of erroneous interpretations, not to mention rewriting, of Scripture designed to fit it to the paradigm of the group, without regard for clear and concise biblical scholarship and exegesis.

The second, and far more destructive, result of restorationist philosophy is that it denies God’s ability, or willingness, to preserve the faith “once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), rejects His sovereignty over His people, and disavows His plan to bring to pass His will without fail, despite attempts by Satan and his minions to derail it. God did not send His Son to die on the cross for the sins of His people only to allow those same people to lapse into apostasy and languish there for 1800 years. Such a notion is not only absurd, but it defines God as a ruthless and capricious entity, not the loving and merciful Father God we know Him to be. Those who believe God abandoned mankind for centuries because of their unbelief and sin need only to read Romans 3, which makes it clear that even though men are unfaithful, this does not nullify God’s faithfulness. The Holy Spirit is, and always has been, active in the world “convict[ing] the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment” (John 16:8), drawing God’s people from every race, tribe, nation and language to the Savior. In every era, the redeemed of God have responded to His Spirit because that is God’s plan, and it will continue unabated to the day of Christ’s return. Until then, we have the assurance of Jesus Himself that He will be with us “always, even until the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

http://www.gotquestions.org/restorationism.html 

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Grace and Works by Craig Branch

A common question is “what makes a group a cult?” Of course one must consider deceptive, destructive practices and other deviations from orthodoxy, but the fundamental and fatal departure defining a cult is to err on the Person and work of Christ.

Paul defined it best when he warned about false teachers coming with “a different Jesus” and “another gospel” (II Corin. 11:3-4, 13-15; Gal. 1:6-9).

Peter defined “damnable heresies” as “denying the Lord that bought them,” which is denying the Person and work of Christ (II Peter 2:1-3).

How do most cults distort the gospel? They add works or obedience to commandments (law) as the prerequisite for justification or salvation.

The Bible is clear that eternal life is a pure gift, by grace, and man’s works or obedience cannot in any way satisfy God’s righteousness.

Grace plus works for salvation is like trying to mix oil and water; “and if, by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace,” (Romans 11:6).

“By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight,” (Romans 3:20).

In the epistle which directly responds to this issue, Paul clearly explains, “Even we have believed in Jesus Christ that we might be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law, for by works of the law shall no flesh be justified,” (Galatians 2:16; see also Ephesians 2:4-9; Titus 3:5-7).

God’s law, a reflection of His justice and righteousness, requires perfect obedience. One sin, whether by commission or omission, whether done with or without knowledge, separates man from God eternally (Romans 3:23; 6:23; Matthew 5:48; James 2:10; Galatians 3:10).

That is why Christ obeyed the law perfectly, meeting the requirement – so that His perfect record could be imputed to us when we trust only in Him – faith in Christ (I Corinthians 1:30; II Corinthians 5:21; Romans 10:1-4; 4:4-6).

How do the cults pervert the gospel? How do they fatally mix works with grace and in fact end up rejecting Christ? Most of them deny the full deity and humanity of Christ always resulting in a deficient “different gospel.”

For instance, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that there are four basic requirements needed to gain eternal life (Watchtower, February 15, 1983, pp.12-13).

The first is to be “taking in knowledge” which means that you must be participating in their “Bible studies” (actually Watchtower publication studies).

The second requirement is “to obey God’s laws, yes, to conform one’s life to the moral requirements set out in the Bible.”

The third is to “be associated with God’s channel, his organization” which in fact means that theirs, “the one true church,” is actually the co-savior.

The fourth is to “support his government by loyally advocating his kingdom rule to others.” This means one must go door to door witnessing and without ever balking or questioning a Watchtower edict.

Another blatant example is found in the Mormon basic textbook Gospel Principles.

The Mormon leaders state that the final judgment will be on the basis of works according to “those things which the Lord has commanded us to keep,” (pp. 283-284).

Then all will “be assigned to the kingdom we have earned” (p. 285; emphasis mine).

The Mormon leaders go on to teach that for eternal life one must be “obedient to all the commandments of the Lord,” (p. 290, emphasis mine).

They then list 22 of those requirements which include celestial marriage, total repentance of all wrong doings, speaking the truth always, baptisms for the dead, full tithe paying, and “keeping all the Lord’s commandments until the end of this life on earth,” (pp.291-292, emphasis mine).

Herbert W. Armstrong founder of the Worldwide Church of God claimed to be God’s apostle and like most cults claimed to restore the true Christian church.

He wrote in his major doctrinal work, Mystery of the Ages that in order to achieve salvation and progress to Godhood is to “do his commandments,” (p. 191).

Armstrong goes on to state that the “one test commandment is the fourth-keeping God’s Sabbath” which of course he insists must be Saturday.

He also reveals the “necessity of observing his annual Sabbaths and festivals,” (p. l9l).

He mocks those of “traditional Christianity” who claim that they are “already saved” by “receiving Christ,” (p. l97).

He teaches that one must grow in grace. . . must overcome, must develop in spiritual character during this life in order to be born into the “Kingdom of God,” (p. 2l6).

The many new age groups teach the law of Karma on the endless wheel of reincarnation which is based on good deeds.

Christians must help cult members see that they must consider what the Bible says on the subject and not the cult literature. Help the cult member understand God’s requirement of perfection and their total inability to ever measure up to God’s righteous requirement.

Works are a result of being saved, never a cause. Point them to Christ alone who is the only One who can reconcile man to God, totally, by His doing.

Ed. Note: It recently has been brought to the attention of the WFI offices that Herbert W. Armstrong’s book Mystery of the Ages has been withdrawn from publication.

The Worldwide Church of God headquarter’s staff states that the book has doctrinal problems.

This admission seems interesting in light of the fact that this book was the crowning achievement of Armstrong’s life.

However, despite the fact that this book has been questioned by the WWCOG, the same doctrines quoted in Craig Branch’s article are reiterated in the WWCOG publication The Good News (Jan/Feb 1990, pp. 6-8).

Apparently the doctrinal problems contained in Armstrong’s Mystery of the Ages do not include the “salvation by works” doctrine.)

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The Jesus of the Cults and religions, Another Jesus by LetUsReason.org

Today’s new spirituality does include Jesus, but he is not the Jesus of Scripture. He is another Jesus who is appreciated by mystics and Gnostics alike. He is accepted by the other religions as a great teacher, an enlightened spiritual master, but not the Son of God, God in the flesh, the only Savior from our sins, and only way to the Father. He needs to be something other than the bibles Jesus to be accepted by the masses.

The primary guru of the New Age Movement, Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, taught that the “Christ archetype” could be activated and encountered via active imagination or visualization. People today choose Jesus to be their spirit-guide. As they visualize him, he speaks to them and gives them wisdom and guidance. They claim, “I follow the words of Jesus.”

The Jehovah’s Witnesses also have another Jesus, one who is an angel who became a man

The Mormons Jesus is similar in that he is also an angel. A Spirit child of Elohim who is in the class of Spirit. He is the Spirit brother of the Lucifer who became the Devil. That we all were the same in spirit in our preexistence on earth before we embodied. Mormonism (Joseph Smith): “Christ is the firstborn spirit Son in the eternal family, and while yet in pre-existence he advanced and progressed and became like the Father in power and intelligence; that is, he became a God.”“

It has become increasingly important to see that those who claim to be Christian or represent God are presenting to their followers another Jesus. These are only a few references as a guideline of what the Bible teaches.

What the Scripture (the bible) says He will be- “And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). Jer.23:5-6: “.. I will raise to David a branch of righteousness; … His name by which He will be called THE LORD (Yahweh) OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Isa.63:8 God speaking, “so He became their Savior.”

What did Jesus say of himself-John 8:23 And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I AM from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” “Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM”( John 8:58). Jn.5:18, “He said God was his Father, making himself equal with God. “And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:28. John 10:14-16: “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep”, David said in Ps.23 The Lord (God/ Yahweh) is my shepherd. Later in jn.10 Jesus states of His sheep “they follow Me and I give them eternal life.”

What did the disciples teach that he said- ”and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us. John 1:2-3 He was in the beginning with God 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”

1 Pt.1:1 “ our God and savior Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13 Jesus is called “our great God and Savior.” Col 1:16-17: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”1 Tim.3:16 “God was manifested in the flesh.”

No other person has been opinionated by the religious community, not Buddha, nor Mohammed nor Krishna. Why the various opinions? It’s a life or death matter when it comes to the one called the Son of God. Everyone will need to make a decision on who he is. Unfortunately many deny what He said and the apostles taught of Him.

A.R.E Association for Research and Enlightenment (Edgar Cayce): “He is an ensample [example] for man, and only as a man, for He lived only as a man, He died as man.”( Association for Research and Enlightenment Edgar Cayce, reading no. 900-10 from Circulating file: Jesus the Pattern and You, p. 53.) Edgar Cayce-”Q. `When did the knowledge come to Jesus that he was to be the savior of the world? “A. `When he fell in Eden… In Adam, he brought sin,’“ (Psychic Healing, p. 75).

The Bahai Faith (The Bab; Baha’u’llah): “Jesus was not the only-begotten Son of God come down from Heaven, crucified and resurrected, nor the unique Saviour. Firuz Kazemzeden World Order summer 1978 p.39 the national spiritual assembly of the bahai’s of the United states) Was Christ within god, or God within Christ ? No in the name of God. “ (Abdul Baha Questions p. 97) Many Christians are surprised to find that a new messenger from God has already come, saying that he is the return of Christ.” (The Return of Christ p. 4 1978 Bahai publishing trust)

Islam- Sura 43:59 “Jesus was no more than a mortal whom Allah favored and made an example to the Israelites. They are unbelievers who say God is Messiah, Mary’s son.” Surat al Nisa 4:157-158 “And because of their saying: we slew the messiah Jesus son of Mary. Allahs messenger-they slew him not nor crucified- Sura 43:59

Church Universal and Triumphant-Mark and Elizabeth Prophet “The Christ Self, then, has communication with the Father who in both Principle and Person is the Presence of God, the 1 AM THAT 1 AM, or the 1 AM Presence.” (Mysteries of the Holy Grail Arch angel Gabriel p.217) the Prophets explain, “Jesus was both the actual and symbolical representative of this Christ Self. Jesus was the example. the one who self-realized the Christ Mind and was at one with It at all times. Jesus himself was not the only begotten Son of the Father. The Christ of him was and is the only begotten Son of the Father “ (The Lost Teachings of Jesus p. 241).

Eckankar (Paul Twitchell): “do not put Him [Jesus] in a special category, for all saviours and prophets who came to earth to help mankind did their part arid passed on to the glory of the heavenly kingdom ..

The Foundation of Human understanding The Foundation of Human understanding (Roy Masters): -you must not have any concepts of what Christ is like or God is like. it all must be an inward revelation process-” (Roy Masters (tape), -The Mystery of Golgotha.

The Gurdjieff Foundation (Gurdfieff): -[In a conversation] … Gurdjieff said: ‘I hate your Jesus, poor Jewish boy’-the emphasis being on’ your.’“’ (C S. Nott Teachings of Gurdjieff. A Pupil’s Journal 1978, p. 103

Course in miracles- (Helen Schucman) “Jesus is a man, who is like all other men, and the Christ idea, which all men possess and must eventually demonstrated. He becomes the pattern for all of us. Jesus the man was used by the Christ to demonstrate the illusion of the world.”…Jesus became what all of you must be. …Is he the Christ? O yes, along with you. …Is he God’s only Helper? No, indeed. For Christ takes many forms with different names…” (pp. 83-84).”The Son of God … is not Jesus but our combined Christ consciousness. . .”The name Jesus refers to one who was a man but who saw the face of Christ in all his brothers…. So he became identified with Christ, a man no longer at one with God.”

The Masons- Manly Hall who started the Masons refers to Jesus as “The Solar Diety’ Jesus of Nazareth had attained a level of consciousness, of perfection, that has been called by various names: cosmic consciousness, soul regeneration, philosophic initiation, spiritual illumination, Brahmic Splendor, Christ-consciousness. (Lynn F Perkins, The Meaning of Masonry, CSA Press, 1971, 53)

Gurus

Agne Yoga Fellowship Agne Yoga Fellowship (Swami Kriyananda): ‘What is Christ? St. Simeon the new theologian wrote, ‘I move my hand, and Christ moves, who is my hand.” Swami Kriyananda, Eastern Thoughts, Western Thoughts (Nevada City, CA: Ananda Publications, 1975), pp. 67-68.

Self-Realization Fellowship Self-Realization Fellowship (Paramahansa Yogananda): “in Christian Scriptures it [Christ] is called the ‘only begotten son’. . .. It is the universal consciousness, oneness with God, manifested by Jesus, Krishna, and other avatars.” Paramahansa Yogananda, Man’s Eternal Quest (Los Angeles, CA- Self Realization Fellowship, 1975), pp. 470-71; cf., Self Realization (Los Angeles, CA-Self Realization Fellowship), Winter 1979, pp, 340,

Sri Chinmoy Centers (Sri Chinmoy): “To say that Christ is the Savior and the only way to salvation is a mistake. … He laughs when His followers say He is the only savior.- Sri Chininoy, A Hundred Years from Now (Jamaica, NY. Agni press, 1974), pp, 39-43.

YoganandaYogananda “man reincarnates on earth until he has consciously regained his status as a son of God.”

The Divine Life Society Integral Yoga Institute (Sivananda/ Satchidananda): “Remember that Christ is not a person, It’s an experience-Christhood. Like Nirvana or Buddha. It’s an experience.. . “ (Satchinananda speaks p.47-48 June 17, 1975)

Sri Yukteswar said: Theologians have interpreted Christ’s words in such passages as “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn. 14:6). Jesus meant, never that he was the sole Son of God, but that no man can attain the unqualified Absolute, the transcendent Father beyond creation, until he has first manifested the ‘Son’ or activating Christ Consciousness within creation. Jesus, who had achieved entire onenness with that Christ consciousness, identified himself with it inasmuch as his own ego had long since been dissolved.’ (Paramahansa Yogananda Autobiography of a Yogi Self Realization fellowship p.178)

3 HO Sikhism 3 HO Sikhism (Yogi Bhajan): Jesus was a man of God only who had to become qualified for hiknow if Joseph was his father and his mother created “her son to really be a Christ,” but not a savior. Heads of Truth, Winter, March 1978, p. 20; Spring 1975, p. 13; Spring 1978, pp. 32, 39, Beds of Truth no. 31, p. 15.)

Vedanta: Swami Probhavananda alleges we “cannot accept Christ as the only Son of God, Those who insist on regarding the life and teachings of Jesus as unique are bound to have great difficulty in understanding them.” Swami Prabhavananda, The Sermon on the Mount According to Vedanta 1963, p. 47.

Sai Baba Society (Sathya Sai Baba): “The inner mystery of the incarnation [is] God incarnating in all. All are One; the One is All.

Anthroposophy (Rudolph Steiner): “[Jesus] … must be designated in the truest sense of the word as a ‘mere man’.. ( Rudolf Steiner, From Jesus to Christ 1973, pp. 51-52.

Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism Diasaku Ikeda): “The doctrines of the divinity and the resurrection Of Christ are outside the province of rational thought …. Christians are schizophrenic.” Noah S. Brannen, Soka Gakkai, Japan’s Militant Buddhists (Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1968), pp. 98-99.

The Masonic Lodge: A former Mason reports ‘Freemasonry carefully excludes’ the Lord Jesus Christ from the lodge and chapter, repudiates His mediatorship, rejects His atonement, denies and disowns His Gospel, frowns upon His religion and His church, ignores the Holy Spirit…” Edmond Ronayne, The Masters Carpet (Ezra Cook Company of Chicago, 1879), p. 87.) “Christ, teaching the Religion of Love, was crucified, that it might become a Religion of Hate;” (Morals and Dogma P.294) “But the Chief of the Empire of Darkness caused Him to be crucified by the Jews. Still He suffered in appearance only…” (ibid. p. 567, p. 1)

Those who claim Christianity

Iglesia Ni Cristo (Felix Manalo) “If there is any verse which people claim proves the alleged deity of Christ, this verse has been wrongly interpreted by the people.” (Pasugo 1984 May/june p.14) “Col.1:15 states very clearly, Christ is ‘the firstborn of every creature,’ and is therefore not the creator.”(Pasugo Jan/.Feb 1980 p.37) “The scriptures do not teach that Christ is the creator of all things.” (PASUGO, March/April 1982, p. 26.)”We now affirm that Jn.1:1 does not call Jesus Christ God…’It does not teach the doctrine of the Trinity.” (God’s message July/Sept 1995 p.14)

Jehovah’s Witnesses- Charles Taze Russell- “There is Scriptural evidence for concluding that Michael was the name of Jesus Christ before he left heaven and after his return.” (WT 5/15/1969, p. 307) …”Michael the great prince is none other than Jesus Christ himself.” (WT 12/15/1984 p29) Michael the archangel is no other than the only begotten son of God, now Jesus Christ..”(New Heavens and New Earth pg.30-31)- Charles Taze Russell-”There is Scriptural evidence for concluding that Michael was the name of Jesus Christ before he left heaven and after his return.” (WT 5/15/1969, p. 307) …”Michael the great prince is none other than Jesus Christ himself.” (WT 12/15/1984 p29) Michael the archangel is no other than the only begotten son of God, now Jesus Christ.”(New Heavens and New Earth pg.30-31)

The Moonies- “He can by no means be God Himself.”—Divine Principle, pp. 210-211

Christian Science Christian Science (Mary Baker Eddy): “Jesus Christ is not God, as Jesus Himself declared, but is the Son of God.” (Science and Health Key to the Scriptures p.361). Jesus is the name of the man who, more than all other men, has presented Christ, the true idea of God. . . . Jesus is the human man, and Christ is the divine idea; hence the duality of Jesus the Christ. (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health and Key to the Scriptures The First Church of Christ Scientist 1934, p. 361.) “ he was the first human to understand the Divine Mind.” “ Jesus means “the highest human corporeal concept of the divine idea. . .” (ibid. p. 589).

Christian Spiritual Alliance The Christian Spiritual Alliance (Roy Eugene Davis): “Jesus was not the only begotten.” (Roy Eugene Davis, the Hidden teachings of Jesus Revealed 1968, p. 9, emphasis added.

Christadelphians (John Thomas). “Jesus Christ did not exist as a person from eternity as one of the triune Godhead…. He did not actually come into being until He was begotten of the Holy Spirit and born in Bethlehem” (Christadelphian messenger no.46 the word made flesh p.3)

Oneness Pentecostals “The Son of God existed from all eternity only as a plan in the mind of God.” (The Oneness of God, D. Bernard p.295) “the role of the son is temporary and not eternal” (p.105, 108)”“The Son of God refers to the humanity of Jesus.” (Oneness of God, p.98)

Way International Paul Wierwille taught “We, as well as Jesus Christ, were with God in His foreknowledge, but not in existence, before the world began. Neither did Jesus Christ” (Jesus Christ Is Not God pp. 31-32). that Jesus did not exist except in the mind of God before conception in Mary’s womb, and “Jesus Christ the Son of God, was made by God” (Ibid, pp. 103-04).

Unity School of Christianity (Charles Fillmore), “Most of our religious beliefs are based on the [erroneous] idea that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.” Unity (periodical), October, 1976, pp. 59-60.)

Unitarian Universalism: Unitarian Universalist minister Waldemar Argow states: “They [Unitarian/Universalists] do not regard him as a supernatural creature, the literal son of God who was miraculously sent to earth as part of an involved plan for the salvation of human souls.’, (Waldemar Argow, Unitarian Universalism-Some Questions Answered (pamphlet) (Boston, MA. Unitarian Universalism Assoc., nd.), p. 6.)

Mormonism- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints- “..That Lucifer, the son of the morning, is our elder brother and the brother of Jesus Christ.” (Apostle B. McConkie Mormon doctrine p.163-164) “…Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven,” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, pp. 50-51). Jesus got married at Cana and had many wives Martha, Mary and others he also had many children,” (J & D vol.1 345-346 vol.2 79-82 vol.4:259-260 the seer p.172)

The Unification Church (Sun Myung Moon): “It is a great error to think Jesus was God Himself. Jesus is no different from other men.”( Young Oon Kin, Divine Principle and its Application (HSA-UWC, 1968), p. 75.) “We must understand that this (John 8.58) also does not signify that Jesus was God Himself .Jesus on earth was a man no different from us except for the fact that He was born without original sin.” (Divine Principle p. 212).

Word faith movement

John Avanzini “Jesus had a nice house, a big house.” (Believer’s Voice of Victory, (TBN) 1/20/91) “Jesus was handling big money.” (Praise the Lord (TBN), 9/15/88)

Kenneth Copeland “The image being that he was a copy, looked just like, if you stood Adam upside God they look just exactly alike….” (The Authority of the Believer IV, Tape #01-0304) “Jesus has a beginning and an end.” (What Happened From the Cross to the Throne, Tape #00-0303) God is a “spirit-being with a body, complete with eyes, and eyelids, ears, nostrils, a mouth, hands and fingers, and feet.” (Kenneth Copeland ministry letter, 21 July 1977.) “Satan conquered Jesus on the Cross and took His spirit to the dark regions of hell” (Kenneth Copeland, Holy Bible: Kenneth Copeland Reference Edition (Kenneth Copeland, Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1991), 129.)

Benny Hinn ‘“What was the appearance of God the Father? Like that of a man…God has the likeness of fingers and hands and a face.” (Good Morning Holy Spirit, (Benny Hinn, Word, 1991) p. 82) “Have you been begotten? So was He. Don’t let anyone deceive you. Jesus was reborn. “ (Benny Hinn, Our Position ‘In Christ,’ Part 1 1991), videotape #TV-254. “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost – three separate individuals, one in essence, one in work – and, may I add, each one of them possesses His own spirit-body. “ (“Praise the Lord”, 10/23/92)

Hagin speaking of Jesus “his spirit and inner man went to hell in my place. Can’t you see that? PHYSICAL DEATH WOULDN’T REMOVE YOUR SINS. He tasted death for every man. He’s talking about spiritual death.” (how Jesus obtained his name tape # 44HO1 side 1)

New Age writers-

Lola Davis the New Age “Christ” resides on a different plane of consciousness from that which we experience. There he directs the Masters, “a group of advanced souls, most of them discarnate … known variously as the White Brotherhood, The Great White Lodge, the Masters of Wisdom, the Hierarchy, and the Angels around the Throne.” (Lola Davis toward a world religion for a new age p.186)

Matthew Fox- The Cosmic Christ is the divine pattern that connects in the person of Jesus Christ (but by no means is limited to that person). (The Coming of the Cosmic Christ p.135) Divinity is found in all creatures. The divine name from Exod. 3:14, “1 Am who I Am,” is appropriated by Jesus who shows us how to embrace our own divinity. The Cosmic Christ is the “I am” in every creature. (P154)

Babara Marx Hubbard- “Who is this child? This child is the Christ-child within who has emerged victorious, fully born, incarnated as every member of the human race who evolves.” “This UNITY OF THE ELECT is the key to the transformation from Adam to Christ, from Homo sapiens to HOMO UNIVERSALIS, from creature to co-creator, from self-centered to whole centered beings.”

David and Naomi Rice…. The Christ is within each and everyone of God’s creatures. …. . .the Christ is the spark of pure energy of God that has always existed within the individual manifestation of God in in many forms, but has been forgotten. (Messiah and the 2nd coming John David and Naomi Rice 1982 Coptic press Wyoming MI)

David Spangler stated: Christ is the same force as Lucifer…… Lucifer works within each of us to bring us to wholeness, and as we move into a New Age … each of us in some way is brought to that point which I term the Luciferic Initiation … for it is an invitation into the New Age. (David Spangler reflections on the Christ p.44-45)

Tara Center- THE CHRIST IS IN THE WORLD. A great World Teacher for people of every religion and no religion. A practical man with solutions to our problems. He loves ALL humanity… Christ is here, my friends. Your Brother walks among you. (Tara Center, full-page ad in USA Today, January 12, 1987) stated: Christ is the same force as Lucifer…… Lucifer works within each of us to bring us to wholeness, and as we move into a New Age … each of us in some way is brought to that point which I term the Luciferic Initiation … for it is an invitation into the New Age.(David Spangler reflections on the Christ p.44-45)

Tara Center- THE CHRIST IS IN THE WORLD. A great World Teacher for people of every religion and no religion. A practical man with solutions to our problems. He loves ALL humanity… Christ is here, my friends. Your Brother walks among you. (Tara Center, full-page ad in USA Today, January 12, 1987) Benjamen Creme’s opinion, -given to him by his master, Lord Maitreya, you and I are not God and Jesus did not claim to be God.”The Christ is the Master ‘Of all the Masters , but He is not God, and never claimed to be God”

Rosicrucianism (AMORO (H. Spencer Lewis): “Nowhere in the teachings and practices of Jesus can we find the least intimation that His great system was intended to bring salvation to the physical body of man. Even the salvation of the soul was not taught by Jesus, and all references in the Christian Bible to the salvation of the soul constitute a misinterpretation, a misunderstanding, of the secret (Rosicrucianism] principle that Jesus taught.( K Spencer Lewis, The secret Doctrine of Jesus (San Jose, CA– Supreme Grand Lodge of AMORC), pp. 186-87,189-91.The Son is the highest initiate of the Sun”( The Rosicrucian Cosmo Conception). “The Christ spirit which entered the body of Jesus when Jesus Himself vacated it, was a ray from the cosmic Christ. We may follow Jesus back in His previous incarnations and can trace his growth to the present day.” (The Rosicrucian Philosophy p. 181)

Science of Mind (Ernest Holmes): “Jesus is the name of a man. Christ means the Universal Principle of Divine Sonship.'(N. Kasturt Sathya Sai Speaks, vol. 8, Ist ed. 1975, p.144.)

Scientology (L. Ron Hubbard): “Neither Lord Buddha nor Jesus Christ were OTs [that is, Operation Thetans, enlightened beings] according to the evidence. They were just a shade above clear [that is, relatively low on the Scientology scale of spiritual advancement.” (Ability magazine no. 81 [c. 1959 p. 31.)

Pierre Teilhard De Chardin- If a Christ is to be completely acceptable as an object of worship, he must be presented as the saviour of the Idea and reality of evolution. (P. 78) I believe that the Messiah whom we await, whom we all without any doubt await the universal Christ; that is to say, the Christ of evolution. (P. 96)Christianity and Evolution by

Theosophy (Helena. P Blavatsky): “Nowhere throughout the New Testament is Jesus found calling himself God, or anything higher than ‘a son of God,’ the son of a ‘Father,’ common to all.” Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. The Secret Doctrine (India: Theosophical Publishing House 1971), vol. 5, p. 369n.

Transcendental Meditation (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi): “[When] Christ said, Be still and know that I am God.'[He also meant) ‘Be still and know that you are God.”’ And, “I don’t think Christ ever suffered [on the cross]…. Those who count upon the suffering, it is a wrong interpretation of the life of Christ and the message of Christ. It is wrong.”105

Lucis Trust (Alice Bailey): -The Incarnation, which is for popular Christianity synonymous with the historical birth and earthly life of Christ, is for the mystic not only this but also a Perpetual cosmic and personal process.- (Alice Bailey, From Bethlehem to Calvary Lucis Trust, 1976, P. 7

Matthew Fox- The Cosmic Christ is the divine pattern that connects in the person of Jesus Christ (but by no means is limited to that person). (The Coming of the Cosmic Christ p.135) Divinity is found in all creatures. The divine name from Exod. 3:14, “1 Am who I Am, “is appropriated by Jesus who shows us how to embrace our own divinity. The Cosmic Christ is the “I am” in every creature. (P154)

Urantia book- Jesus Christ is not identified as being uniquely God the Son, second Person of the Holy Trinity. Instead he is Michael, one of many God the Sons. The Michael of Nebadon is the `only-begotten Son’ personalizing this 611,121st universal concept of divinity and infinity,” P. 53 In other words, Jesus (Michael) is the Son of the Son of God and the Father in the sense that when these two beings had a simultaneous original thought for the 611,121st time, Jesus (Michael) was begotten. (p.366).

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I posted this article in a MSN group that I visit. The “Church of Christ” is not the “one true church”! It is a Cult. By Damon WhitsellI was asked this question,,, “Why does the CoC rate the label “cult” over “heretical”?”, then the questionnaire ask a series of questions voicing his concerns about me referring to the “Church of Christ” as a cult.

What follows is my response.

I would be happy to help out. You said,

QUESTION: “Usually these revelations are presented as truth by a leader who is proclaimed to be a prophet of some kind and whose teachings and writings are considered to be an addition to Scripture and of equal or near equal authority.”

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Responce: The COC claims that all individual congregations are autonomous but in reality they have many “Scholars” that write manuals for them. That is why no matter where you go you here the same arguments and rhetoric from the majority of them. They do not have any extra biblical books such as the Mormons book of Mormon, Doctrine and covenants and the Pearl of great price. They do not have a “prophetical figure“ dispensing “new revelation from God”. But these manuals by COC scholars are considered a “New way” of understanding biblical truth.

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QUESTION: Usually said groups practice one form or another of shunning.

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Responce: The COC is authoritarian in that they claim to be the “only true Christ of Jesus” and only they have the way of salvation. The claim is made that the NT church of Jesus and the apostles ceased to exist and had to be “restored”. They are a part of the restoration movement. You can read more HERE. http://www.how2becomeachristian.info/restorationism.htm

If your not of the COC your shunned as not a real Christian. If you are COC and leave to go to another denomination you are shunned as having left the one true church and forfeited your salvation. This is demonstrated in Sissy’s thread The Church and the doctrine of Christ and many other threads and a considerable number of her post in other thread topics. Can we count the number of threads that have been hijacked by Sissy and her claim to be sinless and her claims that we too must be sinless to be saved?

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QUESTION: Usually said groups reject that salvation is possible by any other means than a strict embracing and adherence of/to their extra-biblical doctrines.

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Responce: This is the case with the COC. Their doctrine of baptismal regeneration (salvation by baptism as opposed to Grace) is thoroughly non-biblical. And so is their claim to be the “one true” or restored church. Their denial of the divinity of the Holy Spirit rejects the biblical triune nature of God. I am glad you asked the next question.

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QUESTION: Usually said groups are legalistic and have strict codes of compliance.

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Responce; 2 COC members here have started at least a dozen threads promoting their doctrine of sinless perfection. According to them your not saved unless you sinless. The sinless perfection (or entire sanctification) is not exclusive to the COC. Many Christian pseudo-cults employ and advocate it. At the same time not many COC churches and believers adhere to it. But they do employ an overbearing attitude and practice of legalism. The practice of legalism is employed in all Christian cults. See my article CULT UNITY ? By Damon Whitsell

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Cult apologetics pioneer Walter Martin defined a cult as follows,, In his 1955 book The Rise of the Cults: An Introductory Guide to the Non-Christian Cults, Martin gave the following definition of a cult: “By cultism we mean the adherence to doctrines which are pointedly contradictory to orthodox Christianity and which yet claim the distinction of either tracing their origin to orthodox sources or of being in essential harmony with those sources. Cultism, in short, is any major deviation from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith.”

These “essential Christian doctrines” are alomost universally agreed among cult apologetics ministries to be 1. the Trinity 2. the full deity and humanity of Christ 3. the spiritual lostness (need for salvation) of the human race 4. the substitution atonement and bodily resurrection of Christ 5. salvation by faith alone in Christ alone

Link here— >>>>Watchman Fellowship’s 2001 Index of Cults and Religions (which list well over a hundred cult entries) states that a cult is Cult= “By its primary dictionary definition, the term cult just means a system of religious beliefs or rituals. It is based on a farming term in Latin meaning cultivation. Sociologists and anthropologists sometimes use the term cult to describe religious structure or belief patterns with meanings (usually non-pejorative) unique to their disciplines. In modern usage, the term cult is often used by the general public to describe any religious group they view as strange or dangerous. Thus, cult can describe religious leaders or organizations that employ abusive, manipulative, or illegal control over their followers’ lives. In addition to these usages, Christians generally have a doctrinal component to their use of the word. Cult in this sense, is a counterfeit or serious deviation from the doctrines of classical Christianity. Watchman Fellowship usually uses the term cult with a Christian or doctrinal definition in mind. In most cases the group claims to be Christian, but because of their aberrant beliefs on central doctrines of the faith (God, Jesus, and salvation), the organization is not considered by Watchman Fellowship to be part of orthodox, biblical Christianity. Research material and Profile are available.”
This is their entry for the COC.

“Churches of Christ: The independent Churches of Christ movement was one of several associations and denominations that developed from Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott and Barton W. Stone’s restoration movement of the early 19th century, which was designed to promote unity among Protestants. Many (but not all) Churches of Christ today, however, differ from traditional Protestant doctrine in two key areas. Many maintain that water baptism and/or other commandments (rather than salvation by grace through faith alone) are a requirement for salvation (see Baptismal regeneration, Salvation by works). Some also believe that today’s Churches of Christ are the only true churches on earth and that they can literally trace their history to the first century church in Jerusalem. “

Not all COC congregations and COC members are aberrant or heretical to the point of apostasy that they are labeled a cult or cult members. From my reading of (“members who have left the COC”) these figures are stated between 20% and 70%.

From my article,,, Unity Within Diversity UNITY IN ESSENTIALS link HERE

UNITY WITHIN DIVERSITY

A few months ago I was engaged in debates at factnet ( a cult watch ministry ) with followers of Arnold Murray and the Shepard’s Chapel. They can be called a Christian cult because they do not hold to essential doctrine. They cannot be called a denomination or a true church. They have nothing in common with others that call themselves Christian except for the name Christian. They hold an unorthodox view concerning the nature of God, man, sin and salvation. From non essentials such as the heresy of pre-existence to the heresy of anglo-Isrealism, to the essentials of God, man and salvation by grace not works or genetics, they are unorthodox to the core. They are not unified within diversity as real Christians are. They are isolated and don’t have unity with those who hold to essential doctrines. Let me explain what I mean by unity with in diversity.

My phone book list about 20 different local Christian churches. Among them are denominations and non denoms and Christian cults. I can go to most of those churches and have much unity in beliefs with them, especially concerning Jesus. In essentials unity, in non essentials liberty and in all things love. Some I could not attend at all because they are diametrically opposed to essential orthodox Christian beliefs, but we must remember that they are cults by virtue of their unorthodox teachings.

Christians churches and denominations enjoy a shared unity within diversity about beliefs concerning God, man, sin and salvation amongst all non cult denominations and non denominational churches. But a follower of Arnold Murray and the Shepard’s chapel cannot enjoy that same unity with other local churches. To fellowship they have to travel to Arkansas or do their fellowshipping online with other Shepard Chapelers. They are isolated, exclusive and authoritarianistic because of their beliefs.

There are beliefs that are essential to orthodox Christianity. There are beliefs that are important but not essential. And there are beliefs that have no relevance at all concerning orthodoxy such as eschatology. Because most of these churches hold to essential doctrines they could be called essentially Christian but some would have to be called Christian cults because they are not Christian by virtue of the essence of their beliefs about Jesus Christ yet still apply the term Christian to themselves.

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Baptism (Baptismal Regeneration):

1). Matthew 26:28, Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:12, 1 John 1:7, Romans 3:25, Heb. 9:22, Heb. 9:12, Heb. 10:18 (The Blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin not baptismal water). See also Col. 1:14.

2). Luke 2:30, Acts 4:12, Romans 1:16, 1 Thes. 5:9, 2 Timothy 2:10, 2 Timothy 3:15, Heb. 5:9, Heb. 2:10 (Christ is solely necessary for salvation not water. Water can’t remove guilt, which is in the heart.)

3). Acts 15:9 There is the purifying heart by faith without water. See also Titus 3:5 and Heb. 10:20.

4). Romans. 10:9-13, 1 Cor. 1:17, 1 Cor. 1:12 Baptism isn’t necessary for salvation

5). In 1 Cor. 1:17, Paul said he didn’t came to baptize, but to preach the gospel. Paul was a preacher and if he wasn’t called to baptize, then baptism isn’t necessarily required to be saved since sinners before repentance can be baptized and claim to be saved but aren’t. Also baptism alone doesn’t account for sins since Christ’s blood alone does that by you believing on him.

6). 1 Peter 3: 21 Baptism is symbolic for an answer of a good conscience toward God.

7). Acts 8:34-39 Baptism comes from the Greek word baptizo meaning immersion not sprinkle. Catholics are sprinkled instead of being immersed for baptism, which is unscriptural.

8). Acts 8:36-37, Acts 16:31-33, Acts 18:8, Acts 2:41, Acts 10:44-48, Acts 6, Acts 8:12, Acts 8:13 In those verses, it shows baptism coming after salvation after one believes on Christ (repentance). Baptism can’t affect a man’s heart since baptism is a water action or work and only Christ alone can do that apart from works. Paul, Cornelius, and the Philippian Jailer are all examples in the book of Acts of using or being presented with baptism after one’s salvation first.

9). Eph. 2:5 By faith ye are saved (Baptism is excluded from the equation). Another analogy is this; the very elderly, crippled, those paralyzed for life, and the very ill can’t be baptized for obvious reasons, yet if they repent; they’re saved without baptism. One is baptized because he/she believes (or is saved) not to get saved.

10). Luke 23:43 The thief on the cross is in heaven without being baptized. See also Galatians 2:16, Galatians 3:11, Romans 3:28, Galatians 15:4, Acts 16:30-34. Rituals like baptism or baptizing people will never save but Christ making baptism proceeding after salvation. Therefore, the believer’s baptism is scriptural.

11). Rev. 12:11 The blood of the Lamb (not baptismal water) causes us to overcome this old world. See also Eph. 1:3 saying that you are sealed by the Holy Spirit not by water baptism.

12). Mark 10:13-16 Baptism is unnecessary for salvation, because a simple action can’t account for every sin you’ve committed. If you’re not saved and baptized, you can still sin without being saved until you experienced repentance. Repentance doesn’t require baptism, so baptism isn’t required to be saved.

13). Galatians 3:26-27 You are placed in the body of Christ by spiritual baptism at the moment you are saved then water baptism later.

14). Mt. 28:18-20 Jesus gave the local church the ordinance of water baptism so the believer’s baptism within a church is justified. Note: a church can only issue water baptism for anyone who is saved. Since anybody can be saved with or without a church’s assistance, baptism is not required for salvation again. See also Eph. 1:13-14 saying one becomes an heir to salvation and is indwelled by the Holy Spirit after he/she believes not after he/she is baptized.

15). 1 Cor. 14:1-5 Individuals in the church are speaking in tongues before being baptized. Only saved people can speak in tongues, therefore you can be saved without being baptized, but all Christians should be baptized as an adult in their lifetime as participating in God’s ordinance (also covenant sign with God).

16). Hebrews 13:20 The blood of the everlasting covenant (Christ’s blood) had brought peace not water.

17). John 4:2 This is a great verse. It says that Jesus never baptized anyone but only his disciples. If Jesus mentioned salvation and saved people, why didn’t he baptize? It is because baptism isn’t required for salvation validated once again by Christ’s actions of never baptizing anyone. If Jesus is the giver of salvation and never baptized people for salvation then baptism isn’t needed for salvation. It’s interesting to note that no one from Adam to Christ who was believers was saved by baptism. And baptism regeneration was never doctrine in the early church until Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria at ca. 120 AD. In fact, you can find Polycarp, Clement of Rome, Barnabas, and others mentioning salvation by grace through faith without works in their literature before 120 AD.

Here are some questions that baptismal regeneration supporters can’t answer conclusively:

-If baptismal regeneration is true, why can afterwards that you can still have a chance to lose your salvation?
-Why is it that many people like the Thief On the Cross, etc were saved before being baptized?
-Why is that there are examples where people received the Holy Spirit before being baptized? Only saved people can receive the Holy Spirit.
-Why did Christ didn’t baptize a soul and Paul only baptized 2 people? Both lead many people to salvation and both even proclaimed people’s salvation with or without baptism.
-Why is it that there are tons of verses to easily show that salvation is by grace through faith involving Christ’s blood (Which I can show easily), yet baptism is mainly used in fewer times at the Bible?
-What saves and it can only be either Christ’s blood or baptismal water. It’s either one and you can’t have it both ways. If Christ’s blood is sufficient enough to save people, why must you believe that baptism saves which isn’t and doesn’t involve Christ’s blood? If Christ’s blood is infinite enough to save all sin and all humans, isn’t that baptismal water is needed as well? Is Christ’s blood not enough?

Please explain.

-Why is it that salvation can come within or without a church’s assistance and baptism is to be only executed by the church, yet you’re not required to submit yourself to a church for salvation?
-Why did Peter say Repent to get salvation first and then baptism after salvation in Acts? If baptism is used for salvation wouldn’t you be baptized first or what is the outline of salvation in terms of repentance and baptism?
-Why did Christ in Mt. 28:19-20 say teach all nations first then baptize second?
-Why did Phillip baptize the Ethiopian eunuch only after he believed on Christ and acknowledged that he is the Son of God?
-Why did historically the Didache (It shows baptism only after days of preperation), Polycarp, Ignatius (he only calls baptism as a spear or helment to your faith), Clement of Rome, and others in the early church didn’t mention a word on baptismal regeneration yet by 150 A.D., it came about by Justin Martyr. Many reformers like John Wycliffe, Waldensians, Anabaptists, etc don’t subscribe to it anyway so why should we?

 
-Why did baptismal regeneration exist from pagan religions before Christianity’s existence, yet for some reason you believe it must be required for Christians? God rejects paganism into the true faith and that’s outlined in the O.T. and N.T.
-Why did no OT person or prophet utilize baptism for salvation yet you believe Christian is to do this in the NT?
-Why is that men and women who had true conversion living godly lives in Christ without being baptized first in their walk? There are tons of examples of that in the world whether you like it or not.
-Why is there no mention of baptism for salvation anywhere in the Bible especially in Jude and James? All references to baptism involve the church and the believer alone nothing more or less.

http://truthseeker247works365.blogspot.com/2006/07/comments-on-purgatory-baptism-and.html

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My Friend:

God says in order to go to Heaven, you must be born again. In John 3:7, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again.”

In the Bible God gives us the plan of how to be born again which means to be saved. His plan is simple! You can be saved today. How?

First, my friend, you must realize you are a sinner. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Because you are a sinner, you are condemned to death. “For the wages [payment] of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This includes eternal separation from God in Hell.

“…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

But God loved you so much He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, to bear your sin and die in your place. “…He hath made Him [Jesus, Who knew no sin] to be sin for us…that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus had to shed His blood and die. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev. 17:11). “…without shedding of blood is no remission [pardon]” (Hebrews 9:22).

“…God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Although we cannot understand how, God said my sins and your sins were laid upon Jesus and He died in our place. He became our substitute. It is true. God cannot lie.

My friend, “God…commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). This repentance is a change of mind that agrees with God that one is a sinner, and also agrees with what Jesus did for us on the Cross.

In Acts 16:30-31, the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas: “…’Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved… .’ ”

Simply believe on Him as the one who bore your sin, died in your place, was buried, and whom God resurrected. His resurrection powerfully assures that the believer can claim everlasting life when Jesus is received as Savior.

“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12).

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13).

Whosoever

includes you. Shall be saved means not maybe, nor can, but shall be saved.Surely, you realize you are a sinner. Right now, wherever you are, repenting, lift your heart to God in prayer.

In Luke 18:13, the sinner prayed: “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Just pray: “Oh God, I know I am a sinner. I believe Jesus was my substitute when He died on the Cross. I believe His shed blood, death, burial, and resurrection were for me. I now receive Him as my Savior. I thank You for the forgiveness of my sins, the gift of salvation and everlasting life, because of Your merciful grace. Amen.”Just take God at His word and claim His salvation by faith. Believe, and you will be saved. No church, no lodge, no good works can save you. Remember, God does the saving. All of it!

God’s simple plan of salvation is: You are a sinner. Therefore, unless you believe on Jesus Who died in your place, you will spend eternity in Hell. If you believe on Him as your crucified, buried, and risen Savior, you receive forgiveness for all of your sins and His gift of eternal salvation by faith.

You say, “Surely, it cannot be that simple.” Yes, that simple! It is scriptural. It is God’s plan. My friend, believe on Jesus and receive Him as Savior today.

If His plan is not perfectly clear, read this tract over and over, without laying it down, until you understand it. Your soul is worth more than all the world.

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Be sure you are saved. If you lose your soul, you miss Heaven and lose all. Please! Let God save you this very moment.

God’s power will save you, keep you saved, and enable you to live a victorious Christian life. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Do not trust your feelings. They change. Stand on God’s promises. They never change. After you are saved, there are three things to practice daily for spiritual growth:

Pray — you talk to God.

Read your Bible — God talks to you.

Witness — you talk for God.

You should be baptized in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ as a public testimony of your salvation, and then unite with a Bible-believing church without delay. “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord….” (2 Timothy 1:8)

 

I am asking you the most important question of life. Your joy or your sorrow for all eternity depends upon your answer. The question is: Are you saved? It is not a question of how good you are, nor if you are a church member, but are you saved? Are you sure you will go to Heaven when you die?”Whosoever therefore shall confess [testify of] Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32).

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Happy Labor Day to you.,

Things went slow for a couple of weeks at How2BecomeAChristiani.nfo

The ministry has went from 1 website, 3 blogs and a forum…. to 3webistes, 5 blogs, 5 video VodPods, a BLOGTALKRADIO (BTR) account, Myspace page, and a forum

How2BecomeAchristian.info. Will be doing two radio shows at BTR by Jan1-09. Damon has about 12 months internet radio experience, both running a network and hosting at Revereradio.net so the shows will be of good quality and will be entitled “How2BecomeAChristian.info RADIO” and “Occult Agenda EXPOSURE RADIO”.You can leant about BTR at any of the sites as they all have WHAT IS BTR? and BTR Help/FAQ links. Each Radio Show will have a BLOG and Information portal website to support it. A site was created to be the main site, from which will be easy access to all the related sites, therefore a couple of domain names will be changing. One new domain was bought and two more will be purchased soon.

With these new sites, the whole ministry model has changed, and it was time for one ministry name and site to be the main one. Therefore, the name “How2BecomeAChristian.info (with a numeral two) ministries” was chosen (for radio recognition purposes) and the main site domain will be How2BecomeAChristian.info

Traffic has slowed at the site where that domain is now but the main blog received 1200+views in 3 weeks. It took 2 months to get 100 at the first site. Blogs are keyword tag capable, the site is not.

Here are some stats from the other sites.

Last 30 days FIRST SITE

Visitors 278 −8%
Actions 2,228 −5%
Average actions/visit 8.0 +3%
Total time spent 2d 11h −18%
Average time/visit 12m 49.3s −11%

 

The new sites have no stats yet. A most pleasant surprise has been the VODPODS. With 6600+ video views. And the widgets at widget box.com are being down loaded and installed somewhere. And the main blog has had around 30 RSS feed subscriptions.

I pray that Jesus will use this ministry to touch as many people as He sees fit for his glory and Honor.

HERE ARE SOME NEW PAGES MAIN SITE PSEUDO/CHRIST. CULTS H2bac.info RADIO Occult Agenda Exposure Occult EXPOSURE BLOG Occult EXPOSURE RADIO Damon’s Writings MSN Discussions

Even with the addition of these new pages, there are less links in the link bar. This was achieved by consolidating and applying hierarchies in the site construction. So while there is less links to chose from, those links lead to much more content that has been added in the last week and a half.

Thanks for everything,

Ministry Manager,  Damon Whitsell

How2BecomeAChristian.info  (with a numeral 2)  Ministries.

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Have you ever heard that phrase “The ONE TRUE CHURCH” before?

If You have,,, it is most likely that you heard it from a cult member or cult group. ALL cults say they are the “one true Church” (referred to as OTC hereafter). All cults have 3 things in common. 1. The all have distorted teachings about God, specifically Jesus and the Trinity. 2. They all employ a teaching and culture of legalism. And while they may give lip service to “salvation by grace”, they apply a system of salvation by works. 3. They all claim to be “The ONE TRUE CHURCH” !

This idea of the OTC among cults is expressed in many ways, some of them very ambiguously and not always clearly understood by the folks that hear the assertions. The claim to be the OTC by cults, and the many different ways that say or imply it,, is generally called Authoritarianism. Authoritarianism being defined as “Characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to authority, as against individual freedom” (1).

Lets understand how Cults practice authoritarianism by looking at the teachings of their leaders or books. We will see that indeed cults are sectarian and authoritarian in belief and practice,,, claiming that “only they have the ONE TRUE way” and that only through their group, church, or fellowship can anyone be saved. They say only they have authority and salvation is exclusive to, and dependant upon their teachings and membership in their group. They keep their members in bondage by saying that members that leave the OTC, will lose their salvation by doing so.

We will hear it in their own words and then I will share a comment from a friend, that sums up the topic of “The ONE TRUE CHURCH” very well. We’ll look at 3 or 4 of the more well known cults. Lets look at a couple of Mormon quotes first.

Mormons

Joseph Smith claimed that he had seen both God the Father and Jesus Christ and asked these personages which church he should join. He claimed he was told to join none of them, “for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight” (Joseph Smith History 1:19).

“Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth” (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10).

Notice that the Book of Mormon here is saying that the Christian church is “the whore of all the earth”, “the church of the devil” and “the mother of abominations”.

The Mormon scripture Doctrine and Covenants says the Mormon church, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Later day saints is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased ….” (1:30)

Clearly Mormonism’s claim has always been that it is the OTC and all others are false and of Satan. For more anti-Christian quotes from Mormon leaders all the way up to the present leadership, see this post on this blog. LINK HERE

Church of Christ

For the Church of Christ, we will refer to section of an article at faithfacts.org @ http://www.faithfacts.org/world-religions-and-theology/church-of-christ#truechurch

The section is appropriately titled,,,,

TRUE CHURCH.

Walter Scott in the preface of his book, The Gospel Restored, said: “In 1827 the True Gospel was restored. For distinction’s sake it was styled the Ancient Gospel.” In a more recent Church of Christ tract, the writer says: “She [the church] was HIDDEN for 1260 years, that she might be protected from the power of the Popes.” Is it true that some within the CC still teach that the true church was really completely hidden for some 1260 years, so hidden in fact that Alexander Campbell had to find a Baptist preacher to baptize him?

Apparently not all CC people have this understanding of the 1260 year church gap. Some only say that the true church existed during those 1260 years, although believers had to worship in secret lest they be persecuted by the apostate Catholic church. But if you do hold to the gap view, what is the meaning of Mat 28:20 (“And lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the end of the age.”)? And Ephesians 3:21 (“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.”) If the church was in apostasy for centuries, why does Jesus say, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it”?

Is it correct that sometimes the CC considers Christians who “do not walk with you,” as Ketcherside claims (www.freedomsring.org/heritage/chap22.html) to be “hobbyists, or dishonest, or insincere, or sectarians, or unworthy of notice?” Did Jesus die for a particular party within Christendom? Do you know precisely where God would draw the line to eliminate certain people from being considered Christians? How would you define “sect?” Would you define it differently than Cecil Hook (http://www.freedomsring.org/ftc/chap24.html)?

Hasn’t the church always been in need of reform and restoration—even from the beginning, as evidenced by Paul’ letters to his churches? If a man loses his leg, doesn’t he still have the essential nature of a man? If the church loses some correct practices, doesn’t it still have the essential nature of a church (www.freedomsring.org/fic/chap19.html)? The concept of the restoration of the true church is a view that the CC holds in common with Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. If the church only existed in “seed” (meaning the Word) as you say during this church gap period, where in the “seed” does it prophecy that Alexander Campbell and his followers would restore the church? Or where in the “seed” does it authorize anyone to restore the church?

Is it fair to accuse other Christians groups of being started by men, when history clearly shows that the Church of Christ was started by men—Thomas and Alexander Campbell on May 4, 1811?

How does the Bible differentiate between joining a local congregation and joining the universal church of Christ (http://www.freedomsring.org/ftc/chap22.html)

Jehovah Witness’s

“It should be expected that the Lord would have a means of communication to his people on the earth, and he has clearly shown that the magazine called The Watchtower is used for that purpose.” (1939 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 85.)

“Make haste to identify the visible theocratic organization of God that represents his king, Jesus Christ. It is essential for life. Doing so, be complete in accepting its every aspect.” The Watchtower, October 1, 1967, p. 591.

“We cannot claim to love God, yet deny his word and channel of communication.” The Watchtower, October 1, 1967, p. 591.

Only this organization functions for Jehovah’s purpose and to his praise. To it alone God’s Sacred Word, the Bible, is not a sealed book. The Watchtower; July 1, 1973, pp. 402.

“We all need help to understand the Bible, and we cannot find the Scriptural guidance we need outside the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ organization.” (The Watchtower, Feb. 15, 1981.)

“Thus the Bible is an organizational book and belongs to the Christian congregation as an organization, not to individuals, regardless of how sincerely they may believe that they can interpret the Bible.” The Watchtower, Oct. 1, 1967. p. 587.

Just like the Mormons, the COC and all of the Christian Cults of the restoration movement started by Alexander Campbell, the JW’s also claim to be the ONE TRUE CHURCH.

Lets look at one more cult and then I will give you my friends wise summary of all of this.. This next cult is thought by some well respected Christians to not be a cult,, but it is in both doctrine and it’s authoritarianism and claim to be the OTC.

Seventh Day Adventist (SDA)

For the SDA we will refer to a section of an article by McGregor ministries @ http://www.macgregorministries.org/seventh_day_adventists/sda_facts.html

What facts won’t they tell you?

They won’t tell you that they consider themselves to be the only, true, remnant Church. Their prophetess, Ellen G. White, whom they revere and believe without question has told them that
“…Satan has taken full possession of the Churches”. (Spiritual Gifts V.l,p.189-90)
They also believe our prayers are an “abomination” to God. (Spiritual Gifts, V1 p.190).

That is what they think of you and your church, even if they won’t say it out loud in public, or to your face.

They revere their founding prophetess, Ellen G. White, and made this statement in their “Ministry” Magazine of Oct. 1981 and have never retracted it:

“We believe the revelation and inspiration of both the Bible and Ellen White’s writings to be of equal quality. The superintendence of the Holy Spirit was just as careful and thorough in one case as in the other”.

They won’t tell you too much about Ellen G. White at their public seminars, but their goal is to bring the person attending to the point of conversion and baptism.
Their 2000 baptismal certificate poses questions to which the candidate must answer “yes”. Question 8 says,

“Do you accept the biblical teaching of spiritual gifts and believe that the gift of prophecy is one of the identifying marks of the remnant church”.

If the candidate says “yes” and is baptised, they soon learn that the “gift of prophecy” is Ellen G. White’s writings. Point 13 has them accepting that the SDA Church is the remnant church of Bible Prophecy. They have been baptized into an exclusive group, but they don’t know how exclusive it is, yet!

No doubt they will be urged to avail themselves of a “Clear Word Bible”. This publication of theirs has inserted the words and doctrines of Ellen G. White right into the Bible text, insuring that the person studying it will have the mind of Ellen G. White.

Slowly, but surely, the new SDA will come to believe these extra-biblical doctrines that set the SDA church apart from Evangelical Christianity.
Summary conclusion My friend Katherine wrote the following about “the True Church” and she did such a good job I asked her if I could include her words here in this article. Katherine says,,,

The One True Church is easy…..there will be many that are members of the One True Church….they will come from all over the World…..God knows each and everyone of them because He is the only one that knows their heart………
They come from every denomination….from every walk of life….they are rich and poor…lame and weak but very rarely strong except that because of Jesus they have become stronger and richer than they ever imagined…beyond what they could ever conceive….this is the reason they continue to want to tell others about the Love Christ has for them….so they can know also.. God wants none to perish but many will, simply because of PRIDE……

Any denomination that has rules and regulations that do not match up with the Word of GOD…..is not TRUTH….and just about every denomination has one rule that does not match with the Word……some have so many they have become cultist….. now if this rule is a rule that is a salvation rule or says that if you do not do so and so..you are not saved or if you do not belong to this denom or that denom you are not saved….well they do not match up to the Word Of GOD……the Bible is Black and White…..it is man that blurs the Word …..If you truly love one another, understanding will fall into place….God is Love….If you Love…..you will know GOD…….it seems that pride is always out front……and this is sad…….

There are two types of churches……

Church…a building with a name and lots of different people attend……saved and unsaved….

Church…..the only members of the body of Christ….they come from everywhere….and some don’t even attend a church building…….real simple

Some of my other wirings that are related to this subject are,,

1, The Heresy of Restorationsim 2. CULT UNITY 3. 34,000 differing denominations or Unity Within Diversity UNITY IN ESSENTIALS

FAIR USE notice: The material from other ministries in this article was used for research and educational purposes.
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NOTICE: This post is rather long, But this chapter in the book is the most important. It is worth the time to read. This copyrighted material is posted for research and teaching purposes provided under “fair use” laws.

The Beliefs of Orthodox Christianity

The Beliefs of Orthodox Christianity

Handbook of Today’s Religions by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart

The Beliefs of Orthodox Christianity

For the last two thousand years, the Christian Church has held certain beliefs to be vital to one’s faith. While there is some doctrinal disagreement within the three branches of Christendom -Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant- there is a general agreement among them as to the essentials of the faith. Whatever disagreement the church may have among its branches, it is insignificant compared to the heretical non-Christian beliefs of the cults. We offer this section as a yardstick to compare the errant beliefs of the cults.

The Doctrine of Authority

When it comes to the matter of final authority there is agreement among the major branches of Christianity with regard to the divine inspiration of the Old and New Testaments. However, the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox branches of the church go somewhat beyond the Bible as to their source of authority.

Roman Catholic The historic Roman Catholic Church accepts the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God. They also accept the Apocrypha as being inspired of God. Further, they consider church tradition just as authoritative as the Scriptures. (In a previous work, we have dealt with reasons why we do not accept the Apocrypha as sacred Scripture Answers, Here’s Life Publishers, 1980, pp. 36-38.)

Eastern Orthodox The historic Eastern Orthodox church also accepts the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments as God’s inspired revelation. To this they add their church tradition as equally authoritative.

Protestant The historic Protestant church holds that Scripture alone is the final authority on all matters of faith and practice. The Lutheran formula of Concord put it this way: “We believe, confess, and teach that the only rule and norm, according to which all dogmas and doctrines ought to be esteemed and judged, is no other whatever than the prophetic and apostolic writings both of the Old and of the New Testaments.”

Scripture itself testifies that it is complete in what it reveals and the standard and final authority on all matters of doctrine, faith and practice. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16 NASB).

“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will. But men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20, 21 NASB).

“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2 NASB).

“I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18, 19 NASB).

The Doctrine of God

The Doctrine of God is the same in all three branches of Christianity The Westminster Shorter Catechism (Question 6) reads, “There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory”.

The Athanasian Creed elaborates on the doctrine of the ‘Trinity:
… we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance [Essence]. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate … The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal… So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God … the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

In a previous work, Answers to Tough Questions, (Here’s Life Publishers, 1980), we explained in a simple way the biblical doctrine of the Unity. We are reprinting it here as an attempt to clarify what Orthodox Christianity believes regarding the nature of God.

One of the most misunderstood ideas in the Bible concerns the teaching about the Trinity. Although Christians say that they believe in one God, they are constantly accused of polytheism (worshipping at least three gods).

The Scriptures do not teach that there are three Gods; neither do they teach that God wears three different masks while acting out the drama of history. What the Bible does teach is stated in the doctrine of the Trinity as: there is one God who has revealed Himself in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and these three persons are the one God.

Although this is difficult to comprehend, it is nevertheless what the Bible tells us, and is the closest the finite mind can come to explaining the infinite mystery of the infinite God, when considering the biblical statements about God’s being.

The Bible teaches that there is one God and only one God: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4 NASB). “There is one God” (1 Timothy 2:5 KJV). “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me'” (Isaiah 44:6 NASB).

However, even though God is one in His essential being or nature, He is also three persons. “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26 KJV). “God said, Behold, the man has become like one of us” (Genesis 3:22 RSV).

God’s plural personality is alluded to here, for He could not be talking to angels in these instances, because angels could not and did not help God create. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ, not the angels, created all things (John 13; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:2).

In addition to speaking of God as one, and alluding to a plurality of God’s being, the Scriptures are quite specific as to naming God in terms of three persons. There is a person whom the Bible calls the Father, and the Father is designated as God the Father (Galatians 1:1).

The Bible talks about a person named Jesus, or the Son, or the Word, also called God. “The Word was God”. (John 1: 1 KJV). Jesus was “also calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18 NASB).

There is a third person mentioned in the Scriptures called the Holy Spirit, and this person – different from the Father and the Son – is also called God (“Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit? … You have not lied to men, but to God,” Acts 5:3,4 RSV).

The facts of the biblical teaching are these: There is one God. This one God has a plural personality. This one God is called the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, all distinct personalities, all designated God. We are therefore led to the conclusion that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God, the doctrine of the Trinity.

Dr. John Warwick Montgomery offers this analogy to help us understand this doctrine better:

“The doctrine of the Trinity is not ‘irrational’; what is irrational is to suppress the biblical evidence for Trinity in favor of unity, or the evidence for unity in favor of Trinity.
“Our data must take precedence over our models or, stating it better, our models must sensitively reflect the full range of data.

“A close analogy to the theologian’s procedure here lies in the work of the theoretical physicist: Subatomic light entities are found, on examination, to possess wave properties (W), particle properties (P), and quantum properties (h).

“Though these characteristics are in many respects incompatible (particles don’t diffract, while waves do, etc.), physicists ‘explain’ or ‘model’ an electron as PWh. They have to do this in order to give proper weight to all the relevant data.

“Likewise the theologian who speaks of God as ‘three in one.’ Neither the scientist nor the theologian expects you to get a ‘picture’ by way of his model; the purpose of the model is to help you take into account all of the facts, instead of perverting reality through super-imposing an apparent ‘consistency’ on it.

“The choice is clear: either the Trinity or a ‘God’ who is only a pale imitation of the Lord of biblical and confessional Christianity” (How Do We Know There is a God, pp. 14, 15).

The Person of Jesus Christ

Two thousand years ago, Jesus asked His disciples the ultimate question: “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). Central to the Christian faith is the identity of its founder, Jesus Christ, and it is of monumental importance to have a proper view of who He is.

Jesus Was Human

The Christian Church has always affirmed that, although He was supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit, God in human flesh, Jesus Christ was also fully man. The teaching of the Scriptures is clear with regard to His humanity.

 He grew intellectually and physically.
“Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52 KJV).
 He desired food.
“And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry” (Matthew 4:2 NASB).
 He became tired.
“. . . Jesus therefore, being wearied from his journey…” (John 4:6
NASB).
 He needed sleep.
“And behold, there arose a great storm in the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves; but He Himself was asleep” (Matthew 8:24 NASB).
 He cried.
“Jesus wept” (John 11:35).
 He died.
“. . . but coming to Jesus, when they saw He was already dead, they did not break His legs.” (John 11:33 NASB).
Therefore, it is made plain by Scripture that Jesus was genuinely human. He possessed all the attributes of humanity.

Jesus Was God

Jesus of Nazareth was a man but He was more than just a man. He was God in human flesh. While the Scriptures clearly teach He was a man, they likewise make it clear that he was God.

Jesus Made Divine Claims

There are many references by Jesus and His disciples concerning who He was.

 “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
 “Jesus said to him,. . He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
 “For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18 NASB).
 “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our Great God and Saviour, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13 NASB).
 “From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He” (John 13:19 NASB).

Jesus Exercised Divine Works

Jesus’ friends and enemies were constantly amazed at the works He performed. In John 10, Jesus claims, “I and the Father are one! ” Then when the Jews again attempted to stone Him, “Jesus answered them, ‘I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?’ The Jews answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God… (John 10: 30-33 NASB).

Some of the works attributed to Christ as well as to God are:

1. Christ created all things (John 1:3, Colossians 1:6, Hebrews 1:10).
2. Christ upholds all things (Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 1:3).
3. Christ directs and guides the course of history (I Corinthians 10:1-11).
4. Christ forgives sin (Mark 2:5-12, Colossians 3:13).
5. Christ bestows eternal life (John 10:28, 1 John 5:10).
6. Christ will raise the dead at the resurrection (John 11:25, John 5:21, 28, 29).
7. Christ will be the judge of all men in final judgment (John 5:22, 27, Matthew 25:31-46, 2 Corinthians 5:10).

One of these works drew an especially strong reaction from Jesus’ critics, the religious leaders. This is number four: Christ forgives sin. Mark 2:5-12 reads:

“And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven'”.

But there were some of the scribes sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?’

And immediately Jesus, perceiving in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven;” or to say, “Arise, and take up your pallet and walk”? But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins! He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home’.

And he rose and immediately took up the pallet and went out in the sight of all; so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this.”‘

Now, it’s true that I can forgive the sins you commit against me, but that doesn’t prove I’m God. So why does the fact that Christ forgives sin help prove He’s God? Only God can forgive sins committed against Himself. Yet Christ claimed to forgive sins committed against God. Thus by forgiving the paralytic his sins, Jesus makes one of His boldest claims to deity.

There are many other references to Jesus making divine claims which establish without a doubt that He believed Himself to be God.

Jesus Possessed Divine Attributes

By Demonstration

Jesus not only claimed to be God; He also demonstrated that He had the ability to do things that only God could do.

 Jesus exercised authority over nature.

“And on that day, when evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us go over to the other side’ And leaving the multitude, they took Him along with them, just as He was, in the boat; and other boats were with Him. And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. And He Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’
And being aroused, He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still’, And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, ‘Why are you so timid? How is it that you have no faith?’
And they became very much afraid and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?… (Mark 4:35-41 NASB).

 Jesus reported events which occurred when He was far away from the scene.

“Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, ‘Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile. ” Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’ Nathanael answered Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel! Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these”‘ (John 1: 47-50).

 Jesus knew the very thoughts of people. “But He knew what they were thinking..” (Luke 6:8 NASB).

 Jesus had authority over life and death.

“And it came about soon afterwards, that He went to a city called Nain; and His disciples were going along with Him, accompanied by a large multitude.
Now as He approached the gate of the city, behold a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was widow; and a sizable crowd from the city was with her.

And when the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’
And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise!’ And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother.And fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, A great prophet has arisen among us’ and, ‘God has visited His people”‘.And this report concerning Him went out all over Judea, and in all the surrounding district” (Luke 7: 11-17 NASB).

By Association

Not only did Christ demonstrate the ability to do the things only God could do, but the attributes which were attributed to God were also attributed to Jesus Christ. These attributes are found both in the Old Testament prophecies attributed to the Messiah, the Christ, and in the New Testament as direct references to Jesus. Old Testament prophecies which refer to Jesus Christ and His attributes can be examined in Chapter 9, in Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Here the direct New Testament references will be considered.

The customary division of the attributes of God into metaphysical and moral is assumed here.
As regards metaphysical attributes we may affirm firstly that God is self-existent; secondly that He is immense (or infinite). In regard to immensity or infinity He is eternal, unchangeable, omnipresent, omnipotent, perfect, incomprehensible, omniscient.

As regards moral attributes God is holy, true, loving, righteous, faithful and merciful. In these respects man differs from the ideal of manhood in the sense that He is the Author of these qualities. They are un-derived in Him. It will not be deemed necessary here to go beyond mere proof that all these attributes of God existed in Him. If the metaphysical attributes of God exist in Christ, then the moral attributes are un-derived and infinite in degree. Emphasis therefore will be laid on the metaphysical attributes.

Jesus’ several statements of His oneness with the Father bear upon this subject, especially John 16:15, ‘All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine. ” This is a marvelous claim. This explains why in the previous verse

(John 16:14) He could say that the work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ: “He shall glorify me for he shall take of mine and shall declare it unto you.” Beyond Christ there is nothing to know about the character of God (John 14:9).
Christ possesses the metaphysical attributes of God. These attributes involve what might be called the essence of God. (The following is not an exhaustive list.)

1. Self-existence.
Christ has the quality that He is not dependent on anyone oranything for His existence, and all other life is dependent onHim. John 1:4 reads, “In Him was life.” Jesus states in John 14:6, “I am the life. ” He does not say “I have” but “I am.” There is nolife from amoeba to archangel apart from Christ. These versesmust be explained against the background of the name Jehovah (Yahweh) as explained in Exodus 3:13-15 and 6:2-9 (also see Col-ossians 1:15-23).

2. Eternal
When used of created things this adjective means without end. As used of God, of course, it means without beginning or end. Some clear evidence is found in 1 John 5:11, 20 -!And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.”
“And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”
Also see John 8:35, 1 John 1:2, Micah 5:2 and Isaiah 8:6.

3. All-knowing.
This attribute, also known as omniscience, is the quality of having all knowledge. Biblical evidence for omniscience attributed to Christ is found in three areas.
First is the opinion of the disciples. “Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God” (John 16:30 NASB). Also compare John 21:17.

Second, the testimony of Scripture. “But there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him” (John 6:64 NASB). Also see John 2:23-25.

Third, from examples in Scripture. “But Jesus, aware of their reasonings, answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts?” (Luke 5:22 NASB) Also see John 4:16-19, John 21:6 and Matthew 17:24-27.

Often people refer to Matthew 24:36 as an exception, to illustrate that Christ was not all-knowing. However, many scholars, including Augustine, understand the word “know” here to mean “to make known or declare.” This is a proper meaning of the text. Thus Jesus is stating that it is not among his instructions from the Father to make this known at this time (Shedd, Dogmatic Theology 11, 276).

4. All-powerful.
This means God can do anything not forbidden by His divine nature. For example, God cannot sin, for He is holy and righteous. Allowing for this exception, God can do anything (Mark 10:27). Another name for this attribute is omnipotence.

Christ claimed equality with God in this area. “Jesus therefore answered and was saying to them, “truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner”‘ (John 5:19 NASB).

Jesus is called the Almighty. “I am the Alpha and the Omega;’ says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8 NASB). Compare this with Revelation 1:17, 18; 22:12, 13 and Isaiah 41:4.

5. Present everywhere.
This is commonly called omnipresence. This means God is everywhere, there is no place where He is not present. What is important here is to note this does not mean God is everything. Rather, He is everywhere. God is separate from His creation. “. . teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 NASV).

 Christ possesses the moral attributes of God. These are attributes which deal with the character of God. Again, this list is not complete.

1. Holy.
This means that God is pure, He cannot sin, and is unspoiled by evil or sin either by act or nature. Christ also possesses this attribute. “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God… (Luke 1:35 NASV).

2. Truth.
Truth is the quality of being consistent with your words and actions and having those words and actions correspond to the real world. Thus it means you never lie. Christ’s claims were strong here. He not only claimed to know the truth, He claimed He was the truth. The truth can never lie.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me”‘ (John 14:6 NASV). ‘And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this. . (Revelation 3:7 NASV).

3. Love.
This means that love, unconditional in its nature, is an attribute of God. Here again bold statements are made with regard to Christ’s love. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NASV).

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34,35 NASV).

4. Righteous.
God is a righteous or just God. Righteousness means a standard. God’s standard of love, justice, holiness is what He expects of us. Only God’s righteous standard is acceptable to Him. If God is righteous and God can only accept righteous people before Him, yet He alone can be perfectly righteous, but Christ was accepted as our righteousness, as a perfect substitute …
“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Romans 5:9 NASV).

“For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

“So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men; even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.
“For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

“And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:1 7-21 NASV).
“My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1 NASV).

“. . in the future there is laid up for me the crown i of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8 NASV).-Then Christ’s righteous sacrifice demonstrates His deity by His acceptance by God.

Now, concerning the moral attributes, some say, “I love unconditionally” or “I tell the truth, but that doesn’t make me God.” So why does it make Christ God? This question is answered by understanding two concepts, one having to do with God’s nature, the other with our nature. God’s attributes are qualities that are all true of God and do not exist in isolation. In other words God’s justice exists with God’s love. One does not exclude the other. Thus, the attributes which represent the character of God are affected by those qualities which are true of His essence. So if God is love and God is infinite (another attribute not touched on here) then God’s love is infinite. This is in contrast to man. Man may love, but his love is not infinite. Second, man’s basic nature is sinful and has the tendency to continue to sin. Thus although man may act righteously at times, on his own, or may love unconditionally, ultimately he is bounded by and infected with his sin nature which results in disobedience to God’s standard.

Jesus Received Worship as God

Jesus allowed Himself to be worshipped, something that is reserved for God alone.

• “You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him, and swear by His name” (Deuteronomy 6:13 NASB).
• “Then Jesus said to Him, ‘Begone, Satan for it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only”‘ (Matthew 4:10 NASB).
• “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the East, and have come to worship Him … And they came into the house and saw the child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshipped Him!’ (Matthew 2:2,11 NASB).
• “And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshipped Him” (Matthew 28:9)
• “And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him” (Matthew 28:17)
• “And he said, ‘Lord, I believe. And he worshipped Him” (John 9:38).

James Bjornstad, director of the Institute for Contemporary Christianity, makes an important observation:

To worship any other God, whether angel, man or manmade image is idolatry. In Colossians 2 we are warned, “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in… the worship of the angels” (Colossians 2:18).

We are not to worship angels and this is consistently demonstrated throughout the Bible. In Revelation 19:10 an angel (see 18:1) refuses worship from John. In Revelation 22:8,9, an angel refuses John’s worship a second time, saying, “Do not do that … worship God.”

Furthermore, Romans 1 explains that fools “exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man” (Romans 1:23). Obviously, we are not to worship man either. This, too, is consistently demonstrated throughout the Bible. In Acts 10:25,26, Peter refuses worship from Cornelius. In Acts 14:11-15, Paul and Barnabas refuse worship at Lystra.

From this evidence we can conclude that neither angels nor men are to be worshiped. Yet Jesus is worshiped, as we shall see, because He is God. He is not an angel or mere man. He is God, and God alone is to be worshiped. (James Bjornstad, Counterfeits At Your Door, d/L Publications, 1979, pp. 21, 22.)

Jesus Is God Yahweh

Attributes ascribed to Yahweh in the Old Testament are also used in reference to Jesus in the New Testament, demonstrating that Jesus is Yahweh.
“THERE IS ONE GOD” 1 Corinthians 8:6

 
The teaching on the person of Jesus Christ from the Scripture is very clear. He was fully God and at the same time fully man. Any deviation from this position is not only unscriptural, it is also heretical. Those who attempt to make Jesus something less than God cannot go to the Bible for their justification. Therefore, if one takes the Bible seriously, one must conclude that Jesus of Nazareth was God in human flesh.
For further material and sources see More Than a Carpenter, chapter 1 and Evidence That Demands a Verdict, chapter 6.

The Doctrine of the Church

The Westminster Confession of Faith contains a statement about the church that is accepted by all branches of Christendom.

The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole umber of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof, and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those, throughout the world, that profess the true religion, and of their children, and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.

The true church is made up of all those individuals who have put their trust in Christ as their Savior. It is not merely the attending of church or having a name on the membership list that makes on a member of Christ’s true church. Only the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the repentant sinner qualifies one for membership in the true body of Christ.

The Atonement

Within all branches of Christianity there is agreement that the deity of Christ was a perfect satisfaction to God as just and substitutionary punishment for the sins of the world:

Therefore as in Adam we had fallen under sin, the curse, and death, so we are delivered from sin, the curse, and death in Jesus Christ. His voluntary suffering and death on the cross for us, being of infinite value and merit, as the death of one sinless, God and man in one person, is both a perfect satisfaction to the justice of God, which had condemned us for sin to death, and a fund of infinite merit, which has obtained him the right, without prejudice to justice, to give us sinners pardon of our sins, and grace to have victory over sin and death (The longer catechism of the Eastern Orthodox Church, answer to question 208).

Doctrine of Salvation

The doctrine of salvation is linked with the atoning death of Christ on the cross. While all major branches of Christianity agree that Christ’s death was satisfactory to God as a sacrifice for the world’s sins, there is a disagreement on how that sacrifice is appropriated. We believe the Bible teaches that salvation is by grace, a free gift of God to all those who believe in Christ. Those who receive Christ by faith have their sins forgiven and become children of God, a new creation in Christ Jesus:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9 NASB).
“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5 NASB).

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12 NASB).
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7 NASB).
“Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things are passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB).

Since salvation is a free gift from God, no one can add anything to the completed work of Christ to receive it. It is received by faith and faith alone.

The Doctrine of Man

The Doctrine of Man is succinctly expressed in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, that “God created man, male and female, after his own im-age, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.” Francis Schaeffer, contemporary Christian philosopher, elaborates on what it means for modern man to be created in the image of God:

What is it that differentiates Adam and Eve from the rest of creation? We find the answer in Genesis 1:26: “And God said, Let us make man in our image “. What differentiates Adam and Eve from the rest of creation is that they were created in the image of God. For twentieth-century man this phrase, the image of God, is as important as anything in Scripture, because men today can no longer answer this crucial question, “Who am I?” In his own naturalistic theories, with the uniformity of cause and effect in a closed system, with an evolutionary concept of a mechanical, chance parade from the atom to man, man has lost his unique identity. As he looks out upon the world, as he faces the machine, he cannot tell himself from what he faces. He cannot distinguish himself from other things.

Quite in contrast, a Christian does not have this problem. He knows who he is. If anything is a gift of God, this is it – knowing who you are. As a Christian, I know my differentiation. I can look at the most complicated machine that men have made so far or ever will make and realize that, though the machine may do some things that I cannot do, I am different from it. If I see a machine that is stronger than I am, it doesn’t matter. If it can lift a house, I am not disturbed. If it can run faster than I can, its speed doesn’t threaten me. If I am faced with a giant computer which can never be beaten when it plays checkers -even when I realize that never in history will I or any man be able to beat it-I am not crushed. Others may be overwhelmed intellectually and psychologically by the fact that a man can make a machine that can beat him at his own games, but not the Christian” (Francis Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time, InterVarsity Press, 1972, pp. 46-47).

The Deity of the Holy Spirit

Central to the Christian faith is the teaching that the Holy Spirit is personal and is God, the third person of the Holy Trinity. The doctrine that the Holy Spirit is a person is clearly taught in Scripture. Notice the following examples of personal attributes displayed by the Holy Spirit. He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), resisted (Acts 7:51) and lied to (Acts 5:3). Moreover, the Holy Spirit can speak (Acts 21:11), think (Acts 15:28) and teach (Luke 12:12). Thus, the Holy Spirit is personal.

Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is spoken of in the Bible as a divine person. The Holy Spirit has the attributes of God, for He is all-powerful (Luke 1:35-37), eternal (Hebrews 9:14), and all-knowing (1 Corinthians 2:10,11). The Scriptures teach that lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God (Acts 5:3,4).

The Holy Spirit also was involved in divine works, including creation (Genesis 1:2, job 33:4), the new birth (John 3:5), the resurrection of Christ (Romans 8:11) and the inspiration of the Bible (2 Peter 1:20,21). Finally, to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin (Matthew 12:31,32). The conclusion is that the Holy Spirit is God, the third person of the Holy Trinity.

Conclusion

As Bible-believing Christians, we know that God is personal, eternal and triune. However, the cults each deny one or more of the essential Bible doctrines we have discussed. Beware of any group or individual that changes essential doctrines. The Bible’s teachings cannot be exploited at the whim of any group or individual. It contains “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) and one who changes its divine pronouncements acts like those condemned in 2 Peter 3:16: “The untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”

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WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A CULT?

WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A CULT?

 

Handbook of Today’s Religions by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart.

The Characteristics of Cults

 

 

Extensive travel throughout the United States and abroad, has made us aware of certain features that characterize the cults. These include:

New Truth

 

Many cults promote the false idea that God has revealed something special to them. This is usually truth that has never before been reveal­ed and supersedes and contradicts all previous revelations. Sun Myung Moon’s claim is that the mission of Christ was left unfinished and the world is now ready for the completion of Christ’s work on earth.

The Unification Church teaches that the Rev. Moon is bringing truth previously unrevealed. Moon has said, “We are the only people who tru­ly understand the heart of Jesus, the anguish of Jesus, and the hope of Jesus” (Rev. Moon, The Way of the World, Holy Spirit Ass’n for the Unification of World Christianity, Vol. VIII, No. 4, April, 1976).

The Mormon Church teaches that Christianity was in apostasy for some 18 centuries until God revealed new “truth” to Joseph Smith, Jr., restoring the true gospel that had been lost. Today the Mormon church has its living prophets who receive divine revelation from God, continual­ly bringing new “truth” to the world.

These and other cults justify their existence by claiming they have something more than just the Bible and its “inadequate message.”

The cults have no objective, independent way to test their teachings and practices. It’s almost as though they feel just a firm assertion of their own exclusivity is sufficient proof of their anointing by God. However, as members of the universal Christian church, we can and should test all of our teachings and practices objectively and independently by God’s

Some cults make no claim to new truth or extra-biblical revelation, but believe they alone have the key to interpreting the mysteries in the Bible. The Scriptures are their only acknowledged source of authority, but they are interpreted unreasonably and in a way different from that of orthodox Christianity.

They testify that the historic beliefs and inter­pretations of Scripture are based upon a misunderstanding of the Bible or were pagan in origin. An example of this is found in the writings of Herbert W. Armstrong: … I found that the popular church teachings and practices were not based on the Bible. They had originated… in paganism. The amazing, unbelievable TRUTH was, the sources of these popular beliefs and practices of professing Christianity was quite largely, paganism and human reasoning and custom, not the Bible! (Herbert W. Armstrong, The Autobiography of Herbert W Arm­strong, Pasadena: Ambassador College Press, 1967, p. 298, 294).The Bible is then reinterpreted, usually out of context, to justify the peculiar doctrines of the cult. Without an objective and reasonable way to understand what the Bible teaches, the cult member is at the mercy of the theological whims of the cult leader.

A Non-biblical Source

of Authority

Some cults have sacred writings or a source of authority that supersedes the Bible. The Mormon Church says, “We believe the Bible to be the Word of God in so far as it is translated correctly. . .” (Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Article 8). Although this sounds like the Mormons trust the Bible, they, in fact, believe it has been changed and corrupted. Listen to what the Mormon apostle Talmage has said:

There will be, there can be no absolutely reliable translation of these or other Scriptures unless it is effected through the gift of translation, as one of the endowments of the Holy Ghost … Let the Bible then be read reverently and with prayerful care, the reader ever seeking the light of the Spirit that he may discern between the truth and the errors of men (James E. Talmage, The Ar­ticles of Faith, Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1968, p. 237).

 

Such a statement opens the door for their additional sacred books, i.e., The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price and Doctrines and Covenants, as greater authoritative sources. Thus, the Bible is not truly their final source of authority.

In Christian Science, the Bible is characterized as being mistaken and corrupt and inferior to the writings of Mary Baker Eddy.

The Unification Church believes the Bible to be incomplete, while Rev. Moon’s Divine Principle is the true authoritative source.

Other groups such as The Way International and the Worldwide Church of God claim the Bible to be their final authority when in actuality their authority is the Bible as interpreted by the cult leader. Regardless of whether the Bible is superseded by other works or reinterpreted by a cult leader, a sure mark of a cult is that the final authority on spiritual mat­ters rests on something other than the plain teaching of Holy Scripture.

Another Jesus

 

One characteristic that is found in all cults is false teaching about the person of Jesus Christ in the light of historical biblical Christianity. The Apostle Paul warned about following after “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4) who is not the same Jesus who is revealed in Scripture. The “Jesus” of the cults is always someone less than the Bible’s eternal God who became flesh, lived here on earth, and died for our sins.

The Bible makes it clear that Jesus was God in human flesh, second person of the Holy Trinity, who lived a sinless life on earth and died as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Three days after His crucifixion, Jesus rose bodily from the dead. Fifty days afterward He ascended into heaven, where He now sits at the right hand of the Father, interceding on behalf of believers. He will, one day, return bodily to planet earth and judge the living and the dead while setting up His eternal Kingdom.

The Jesus of the cults is not the Jesus of the Bible.

 

 

According to the theology of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus did not ex­ist as God from all eternity but was rather the first creation of Jehovah God. Before coming to earth, He was Michael the Archangel, the head of all the angels. He is not God.

The Mormon Church does not accept the unique deity of Jesus Christ. He is, to them, one of many gods, the “firstborn spirit child,” spiritually conceived by a sexual union between the heavenly Father and a heaven­ly mother. He was also the spirit-brother of Lucifer in His preexistent state. His incarnation was accomplished by the physical union of the heavenly Father and the human Mary.

No matter what the particular beliefs of any cult may be, the one com­mon denominator they all possess is a denial of the biblical teaching on the deity of Jesus Christ.

Rejection of Orthodox Christianity

 

Characteristic of many cultic groups is a frontal attack on orthodox Christianity They argue that the church has departed from the true faith. Helena P. Blavatsky, founder of Theosophy, had this to say of orthodox Christianity:

The name has been used in a manner so intolerant and dogmatic, especially in our day, that Christianity is now the religion of arrogance, par excellence, a stepping stone for ambition, a sinecure for wealth, shame, and power; a con­venient screen for hypocrisy (H. P. Blavatsky, Studies in Occultism, Theosophical University Press, n.d., p. 138).

 

Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism, said he was given this assessment of the Christian Church when he inquired of the Lord as to which church to join:

… I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong;

and the personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomina­tion in His sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that “they draw near to Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me, they teach for doc­trines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof” (Joseph Smith, Jr., The Pearl of Great Price, 2:18-19).

DoubleTalk

 

A feature of some cultic groups is that they say one thing publicly but internally believe something totally different. Many organizations call themselves Christians when in fact they deny the fundamentals of the faith.

The Mormon Church is an example of this kind of double-talk. The first article of faith in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints reads, “We believe … in His Son, Jesus Christ.” This gives the impres­sion Mormons are Christians since they believe in Jesus Christ. However, when we understand the semantics of what they mean by Jesus Christ, we discover they are far removed from orthodox Christianity. Never­theless, the impression the Mormon Church gives from their advertis­ing is that they are another denomination or sect of Christianity. One, therefore, must be on the alert for organizations that advertise themselves as “Christians” but whose internal teachings disagree with Scripture.

Nonbiblical Teaching on the Nature of God (Trinity)

 

Another characteristic of all non-Christian cults is either an inadequate view or outright denial of the Holy Trinity. The biblical doctrine of the Trinity, one God in three Persons, is usually attacked as being pagan or satanic in origin.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are an example of this. They say, “There is no authority in the Word of God for the doctrine of the trinity of the Godhead” (Charles Russell, Studies in the Scriptures, V, Brooklyn: In­ternational Bible Students, 1912, p. 54). “The plain truth is that this is another of Satan’s attempts to keep the God fearing person from learn­ing the truth of Jehovah and His Son Christ Jesus” (Let God Be True, Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1946, p. 93).

The Way International takes a similar position.,” Long before the foun­ding of Christianity, the idea of a triune god or a god in three-persons was a common belief in ancient religions. Although many of these religions had many minor deities, they distinctly acknowledged that there was one supreme god who consisted of three persons or essences. The Babylonians used an equilateral triangle to represent this three-in-one god, now the symbol of the modern three in one believers” (Jesus Christ Is Not God, Victor Paul Wierville, New Knoxville, Ohio: American Chris­tian Press, 1975, p. 11).

Cults, therefore, are marked by their deviation on the doctrine of the Trinity and the nature of God.

Changing Theology

 

Cult doctrines are continually in a state of flux and have no sure foun­dation on which to anchor their hope. Adherents of a particular cult will learn a doctrine only to find that doctrine later changed or contradicted by further revelation. Most cults will deny this, with the possible excep­tion of the Unification Church. Recently they admitted their theology was in a state of flux.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, used to believe vaccinations were sinful. Anyone who allowed himself to be vaccinated would lose his good standing in the organization. Today this is no longer taught.

 

Christianity Today,

in an article interviewing William Cetnar (a former high official in the Jehovah’s Witnesses), says:

The controversial ban on receiving blood transfusions will probably be lifted after Franz’s death, [Frederick Franz, 87, is the president of the Jehovah’s Witnesses] Cetnar thinks.

A new date for the end of the world (JWs have previously predicted Christ’s return seven times) is likely to be announced, possibly 1988.

By sheer mathematical necessity, some change will have to be made in the JW doctrine that Christ will return before an elect 144,000 Witnesses have died. The 144,000 places were filled by those living in 1914 and few remain alive today. But Christ is supposed to return before the entire generation has died (Christianity Today, Nov. 20, 1981, p. 70).

 

The Mormon Church is equally guilty of changing doctrine. The most famous is its belief and practice, later prohibited, of polygamy.

Strong Leadership

 

Cults are usually characterized by central leader figures who consider themselves messengers of God with unique access to the Almighty. Since the leader has such a special relationship with God, he can dictate the theology and behavior of the cult. Consequently, he exercises enormous influence over the group. This is true, for example, in the Unification Church, The Way International and the Worldwide Church of God.

This strong leadership leads the cult follower into total dependence upon the cult for belief, behavior and lifestyle. When this falls into the hands of a particularly corrupt leader, the results can be tragic, as with Jim Jones and the People’s Temple tragedy. The more dramatic the claims of a cult leader, the more the possibility of a tragic conclusion.

Salvation by Works

 

One teaching that is totally absent from all the cults is the gospel of the grace of God. No one is taught in the cults that he can be saved from eternal damnation by simply placing his faith in Jesus Christ. It is always belief in Jesus Christ and “do this” or “follow that.” All cults attach something to the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. It might be baptism, obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, or something else, but it is never taught that faith in Christ alone will save anyone.

Herbert W. Armstrong, founder and leader of the Worldwide Church of God, exemplifies this:

Salvation, then, is a process! But how the God of this world would blind your eyes to that! He tries to deceive you into thinking all there is to it is just “accepting Christ” with “no works” and prestochango, you are pronounced “saved.” But the Bible reveals that none is yet saved (Herbert W. Armstrong, Why Were You Born? p.11).

False Prophecy

 

Another feature of the cults is they often promulgate false prophecy. Cult leaders, who believe they have been divinely called by God, have made bold predictions of future events, supposedly revealed by the inspiration of God. Unfortunately, for the cult leaders, these predictions of future events do not come to pass. The one who prophesied is exposed as a false prophet.

Writing in 1967, Herbert W. Armstrong, (leader of the Worldwide Church of God), said, “Now other prophecies reveal we are to soon have (probably in about four years) such drought and famine, that disease epidemics will follow, taking millions of lives… Well, we have been get­ting foretastes of them! That condition is coming! And I do not mean in 400 years nor in 40 years but in the very next four or five! ” (Herbert W. Armstrong, The United States and British Commonwealth in Proph­ecy. Pasadena: Ambassador College Press, 1967, p. 184).

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have a well established record of making false prophecies. This pattern was established by their founder and first presi­dent, Charles T. Russell, who conclusively prophesied the end of the world for 1914. judge for yourself (I John 4:1).

The Founder Speaks

1. “ALL PRESENT GOVERNMENTS WILL BE OVERTHROWN AND DISSOLVED” IN 1914- The Time Is At Hand, pp. 98-99 (1889)

2.1914 “THE FARTHEST LIMIT OF THE RULE OF IMPERFECT

MAN.” The Time Is At Hand, p. 77 (1906 ed) *

3. “THE RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF ISRAEL IN THE LAND OF

PALESTINE Thy Kingdom Come, p. 244, EARTHLY JERUSALEM TO BE RESTORED TO DIVINE FAVOR. -The Time Is At Hand, p.77

4. “THE FULL ESTABLISHMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN THE EARTH AT A.D. 1914.” Thy Kingdom Come, p. 126 (1891) * “ON THE RUINS OF PRESENT INSTITUTIONS.”- The Time Is At Hand, p. 77 (1912 ed)*

5. CHRIST WAS SPIRITUALLY PRESENT IN 1874. -Thy Kingdom127-129, “AND WILL BE PRESENT AS EARTH’S NEW RULER” IN 1914;– The Time Is At Hand, p. 77

Come, pp.

6. “BEFORE THE END OF A.D. 1914, THE LAST MEMBER OF THE ‘BODY OF CHRIST’ WILL BE GLORIFIED WITH THE HEAD.” The Time Is At Hand, p. 77, (1906 ed)*

*The Watchtower Society in later editions made changes in what Russell stated here in an attempt to cover up his erroneous predictions.

Conclusion:

 

 

While not every group that possesses these characteristics can be label­ed a cult, beware of a group that embraces some of these features. The sure mark of a cult is what it does with the person of Jesus Christ. All cults ultimately deny the fact that Jesus Christ is God the Son, second Person of the Holy Trinity, and mankind’s only hope.

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WHAT IS A CULT?

WHAT IS A CULT?

Handbook of Today’s Religions by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart.

What is a Cult?
 

 

 A cult is a perversion, a distortion of biblical Christianity and/or a rejection of the historic teachings of the Christian church. The Apostle Paul warned there would be false Christs and a false gospel that would attempt to deceive the true church and the world.

For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. . . for such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ and no wonder for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds (2 Corinthians 11: 13-15 NASB).

Walter Martin gives us a good definition of a cult when he says:

A cult, then, is a group of people polarized around someone’s interpretation of the Bible and is characterized by major deviations from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, particularly the fact that God became man in Jesus Christ (Walter Martin, The Rise of the Cults, p. 12).

Why Do Cults Prosper?

 

We live in a day in which the cults show rapid growth. For example:
The Mormon Church has grown from 30 members in 1830 to more than 4,000,000 as of April, 1978, and its growth rate is a religious phenomenon. In 1900 the church numbered 268,331; in 1910, 393,437; in 1920, 526,032; in 1930, 672,488; in 1940,862,664; in 1950,1,111,314; in 1960,1,693,180; in 1962, 1,965,786; in 1964, over 2,000,000 members, and in 1976 their projection for the year 2000 was for more than 8,000,000 members (Walter Martin, The Maze of Mormonism, p. 16).

 

 

We believe there are several basic reasons people join cults and why they prosper.

The Cults Provide Answers
 

 

A major reason the cults are flourishing is that in an unsure world they provide authoritative answers to man’s basic questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going?Max Gunther, the writer, describes the plight of a young woman, common to many in our generation. “I thought I wanted to become a nurse but I wasn’t sure. I thought Christianity meant a lot to me but I wasn’t sure of that either. I guess I was kind of desperately looking for somebody who had firm yes-and-no answers, somebody who was sure about things and could make me sure” (Today’s Health, February, 1976, p. 16).

Unfortunately, this young lady eventually joined a cult which willingly supplied her with answers. She put it this way, “I kept going back and asking them questions and they always knew the answers –I mean, really knew them.” Thus the cults offer certainty and easy answers to those who are unsatisfied with the present state of their lives.
The Cults Meet Human Needs

Cults also flourish because they appeal to man’s basic human need. All of us need to be loved, to feel needed, to sense our lives have direc­tion and meaning. Individuals who experience an identity crisis or have emotional problems are particularly susceptible to cults. During such difficult moments, many cults give the unsuspecting a feeling of accept­ance and direction.

Furthermore, within all of us there is a basic desire to know and serve God. The cults take advantage of this and offer ready-made, but ultimately unsatisfying, solutions. Most cults tell their followers what to believe, how to behave and what to think, and emphasize dependence upon the group or leader for their emotional stability. The Passantinos give an example of this:

A person does not usually join a cult because he has done an exhaustive analysis of world religions and has decided that a particular cult presents the best theology available. Instead, a person usually joins a cult because he has prob­lems that he is having trouble solving, and the cult promises to solve these problems. Often these problems are emotional.

We talked to a young man who had just left the army, hadn’t been discharged a week, and had already joined the Children of God (the Family of Love) and had given them 100 dollars. He said that he was lonely, wanted to serve God, and didn’t know where to go or what to do. The Family of Love seized on his loneliness, smothered him with love and attention, and almost secured his permanent allegiance.

Fortunately his mother called us and we talked to him, and within an hour he saw how wrong the cult was and decided not to join. We urged him to join a good small Bible study and to become involved in a strong church. Without a good Christian foundation and close relationships with other Christians, he would still be a candidate for the cults (Robert and Gretchen Passantino, Answers to the Cultist at Your Door, Harvest House, Eugene, Oregon, 1981, pp. 22, 23).

The Cults Make a Favorable ImpressionThe cults prosper because Christians have sometimes failed to be a vital influence in the world. Pierre Berton astutely noted:

 

The virus that has been weakening the church for more than a generation is not the virus of anti-religious passion but the very lack of it …. The Church to its opponents has become as a straw man, scarcely worth a bullet …. Most ministers are scarcely distinguishable by their words, opinions, actions, or way of life from the nominal Christians and non-Christians who form the whole of the community (Pierre Berton, The Comfortable Pew, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1965, pp. 15-16).
 

 

If the church fails to carefully and seriously provide spiritual warmth and a true exposition of the Word of God, those with spiritual needs will find other avenues of fulfillment. Many cults prey on ignorance, and try to impress the uninformed with pseudo-scholarship.

An example is The Way International’s leader, Victor Paul Wierwille, who quotes profusely from Hebrew and Greek sources in an attempt to give the impression of scholarship.

Representatives of Jehovah’s Witnesses who go door to door give a similar impression of great learning. To combat this, the believer must know what he believes and why he believes it and thus be able to expose the cult’s teachings.

Many people involved in the cults were raised in Christian churches but were untaught in basic Christian doctrine, making them prey for the cultists. Chris Elkins, a former Unification Church “Moonie” member, points this out:

In most cults, a majority of the members left a mainline, denominational church. Perhaps in the church’s attempt to explain why its members are leav­ing and joining cults, brainwashing is seen as an easy out.

My contention is that brainwashing is really not the issue. In most cases we would be hard-pressed to isolate any element in the methodology of a cult that is not present in some form in mainstream churches. For Christians, the main issue with cults should of us accepted Christ at an early age. We had a child’s understanding of Jesus, the Bible and salvation.

That is okay for children and new Christians. But many of us older Chris­tians are still babies spiritually. We have not learned to feed ourselves, much less anyone else (Christian Life, August 1980).

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