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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.

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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http://www.mormondoctrine.net/testimonies/five_courageous_women.htm

How much Mormon frustration is projection against the LDS church itself?

Does This Describe You? You’re Not Alone….

I asked a question on an internet discussion board. (CARM)

I sometimes wonder if Mormons who get the most upset at LDS critics are genuinely and subconsciously upset at the “system” because they know that they’re just not measuring up {to LDS standards}?

I don’t expect true-believing Mormons to respond with friendly tone because they have wives and kids to think about. For them to say anything negative about the “church” might be tantamount to divorce or losing a job.

What about ex-Mormons?

When you were still LDS, what happened when you were met with “anti-Mormon” tracts? Why did you get mad? What happened that caused you to feel upset… even when you knew that what the “anti” was saying was true?

(Hey, I’m no psychiatrist nor sociologist. I’ve been thinking lately that the ones who get the most angry might be closer to God than they think. Just musing… or molting.)

Libs responds:

You’re molting? Ewww, messy.

You know, Russ, when I first came to CARM, I was really angry at the things I read, because I thought they were out and out lies. Now, I still think there are things that come up, fairly often, that are not exactly accurate, but for the most part, not lies. After I did some looking around on my own and discovered a LOT of the claims against the church and the prophets were true… then, I really got upset. Angry, fearful, distressed, and finally, very sad. Still makes me sad, at times. And angry, at times.

Sounds to me as if Libs got upset because she found out she was being lied to by her own “church.” Who can blame such a one? Sorry for molting on your computer monitor. 🙂

Magdalena responds:

I think I got angry because at least a part of it rang true, and that put me in a tough spot. You’re supposed to defend the church with everything you have. I was angry at having to defend things that I was doubting on some level. And when you’ve been taught that your eternal salvation hangs in the balance, that can be crazy-making.

The more I learned, the less I could defend. And I was angry at the Mormon church for putting me and other people in that position.

How ridiculous is it to expect people to defend someone who chased young girls, married already married women and lied to his own wife about it? This was supposed to be a prophet? I don’t think so.

The list of ridiculous things you’re supposed to defend is very long. If you don’t, you’re accused of not having enough faith. Well you need to be smart about where you put your faith. I wasted a lot of time and energy defending things that weren’t from God. And that did make me upset.

Sounds to me as if Magdalena was upset that she could no longer defend the indefensible. Sounds like she was frustrated at being lied to… and finally… enough is enough.

Justjo responds:

I was angry because I thought the “anti’s” were just lying, the more I found what they said was true, the angrier I got because of fear… fear as Magdalena said, loosing one’s salvation, loosing the progression one has already made and having to start over again if I left and I was wrong in doing so and had to go back. Angry that the org’s best answers at the time was people who have question lack faith, and Mormons know what God thinks of those who lack faith! Then, to actually leave and hear rumors that you left because of some great sin, you couldn’t live the high standards of the org (who the heck really can!?), or I was angry with someone in the org (as if that would be a reason to leave “the only true church”)… that was what made me angry the most!

As Shawn McCraney said… they were right! “I am a sinner, probably the lowest of the low!” But, name me one Mormon who isn’t. HELLOOOOO!!! I live a higher standard being away from the org than I did in it. Why? Because I am not trying to be something I am not…. perfect. Last but not least… who hasn’t been angry at someone else? Do you leave your faith because of that? SERIOUSLY….

Boy Russ… you must have hit a sore spot in me… LOL…. here… let me vent… tell you what I really think and how I really feel about it…

Yes, the more of God’s truth I found, the angrier I got, and the louder I spewed against those who spoke out against my Mormon religion…

Oh my heck! Sounds to me like Justjo was angry at being guilt-tripped into thinking she’d loose her salvation if she dared to question “Joseph.”

MistyAnn0414 responds:

I think I was upset because I felt I was being “picked on”. I was taught that this was the only true church, and the so called “persecution” was proof of it. I can remember going to the Hill Cumorah pageant, seeing the protesters and thinking very unChristian thoughts about them. I never once thought that maybe there was someone there who just wanted to share Jesus Christ with me. I thought I knew it all, that I had the whole truth. I believed that the people who spoke out against the church were only going on the limited knowledge they had, believing the lies they read in books, and heard from their pastors. You know to this day I have never been in a church where the pastor even mentioned Mormonism. It all came down to fear. I was afraid to go there, to take that step. I knew things didn’t feel right or add up. I just didn’t know what I would do without the church.

Sounds to me that MistyAnn found out that it’s okay to question Joseph and that Christians aren’t necessarily out to merely attack Mormons, but are rather asking Mormons to seriously examine what their “church” is asking them to believe.

Mishamari responds:

I was angry at the institution’s methods because I had been lied to. Milk before meat y’know. I was angry at myself because I was so naive’ and trusting, angry because I was out so much money… I overpaid tithing and when tax time came around I couldn’t get it back. I was sad too, that my loved ones bought into a lie as well and I was the first convert in the family.

I wasn’t presented with any “Tracts” and I don’t recall being upset with any “antis”. I only ran into a few “antis”; one was a roommate and we just agreed to disagree. And another was a gal I met at the library, she belonged to a campus Christian cult (college newspaper warned us about them) and approached me about a Bible study. WE got to talking about church and she said “You do realize your church teaches my people have the Mark of Cain, right?” I was a new convert and wasn’t familiar with such a teaching. She started stalking me around campus and I had to say “If you want to be friends, that’s great. You have to give me some space. If I’m only a project to you then I don’t want anymore contact.” I never heard from her again.

Y’know Russ… now, years later… I think the thing I am most upset about is the misrepresentation of God. This issue is what initially led me out of the church but wasn’t the source of my anger. I’m over the “lie” thing and now I’m angry about how God is defined.

Sounds like Mishamari got fed up with being lied to. Again, who can blame such a one?

The courage of these five women inspire me.

Jesus inspired them.

Jesus inspired them to take a close look at what the Mormon “church” was asking them (telling them) to believe and, more importantly, Jesus inspired them to take a real, close look at who He claims to be.

May Jesus also inspire you to look deeply into his life and then compare that to what Joseph Smith said about Jesus. Can such a person really be the brother of Satan? Or is he who he said, i.e. God in the flesh? (John 1:1 and 1:14) The very God of all creation. (Col. 2)

Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?”

Just a good guy? A special prophet? Lunatic? Liar? Offspring of God and Mother God? Brother of Satan who proposed a better plan?

Or God.

Choose this day whom you’ll serve.

Jesus or Joseph.

Tired of trying to be a prophet, avatar or visionary but can’t get anyone to blindly follow you? Have you always wanted to know how to manipulate people in the name of any deity, religion or philosophy you want to hide behind so you can advance your OWN agenda of nakedly abusing power? Look no further!

Examines the similarities of cult traits and NPD in the pulpit.
The Seether songs remind me of my former “spiritual leaders” and probably mean more to me than making a statement to the viewers. Watch this before you give me too much head ache.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ecnm_a0EAtk

See the links in my other videos for more info in Spiritual Abuse, NPD in the pulpit and leaving a cult. Or just read these:

http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/6…

http://www.chameleongroup.org.uk/npd/…

http://www.meadowhaven.org/psychissue…

What qualifies a group as a cult? Both the sociological and the theological perspectives are examined using nifty, easy to remember visuals.

My friend Sean (PappaG) wrote this piece on his blog here.

Sean has a Masters degree in Theology, So it is a quite good rebuttal story,, about when the Mormons last visited his house. I think you will enjoy it.

This is Seans second draft and he is requesting any suggestions that you might have. So pop on over to his blog if you have any. Thanks damon

Here are 21 ex-Mormons testimonies that I gathered up from http://www.youtube.com/user/aaronshaf2006

I post these because they give hope to me that my Uncle,, who is a Mormon Bishop,,,will one day be saved.

Interview with Adam’s Road, an Ex-Mormon Christian Band

Paige Richardson’s Testimony out of Mormonism into the Arms of Jesus

Mitzi Nelson’s Testimony out of Mormonism Into Christianity

Tara Sivulka’s Testimony Out of Mormonism

Brian Mackert’s Testimony Out of Mormonism into Christianity

Lana Larsen’s Testimony Out of Mormonism into Christianity

Randy Larsen’s Testimony Out of Mormonism into Christianity

Tosh’s Testimony Out of Mormonism into Christianity

Gabriel Williams’ testimony out of Mormonism to Christ

Gene’s Testimony out of Mormonism into Christianity

Dave’s Testimony Out of Mormonism into Christianity

Tricia Lynn Burton’s Testimony Out Of Mormonism to Christ

Mark Champneys’ Testimony out of Mormonism into Christianity

Angela Haisten’s Testimony Out of Mormonism to Christianity

James Dorrough’s Testimony out of Mormonism to Christ

Ginny and Bud Gundersen’s Testimony out of Mormonism

Blaine Hunsaker’s Testimony out of Mormonism to Christ

Judy Hartvigsen’s Testimony out of Mormonism to Christ

Cashae Gibb’s Testimony out of Mormonism into Christianity

LaKan Gibb’s Testimony out of Mormonism intro Christianity

Zach Collier’s Testimony out of Mormonism into Christianity

Why Mormons Leave: by Sandra Tanner

From a training session for Christians at the first week of 2009 Manti Pageant.

History of the canon and how we got our bible. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCLLCYyVWYQ

http://www.youtube.com/user/Knowwhere…

Thanks to Chris White of http://nowheretorunradio.com for making all his videos available for download and re-distribution here http://conspiracyclothes.com/nowheret…

If you have not checked out Chris’s ministry, your missing out. See all the revelation radio guys radio shows here http://www.revelationsradionetwork.com/ and here http://feeds2.feedburner.com/Revelati… and their video channel here http://feeds2.feedburner.com/Revelati…

 

While I am not a Presbyterian. I definantly call them my Brothers in Christ. I could be a presbetarian or reformed brother if I was not a dispensational pre-millennial -pre-tribber.

Charles Fox Parham and Freemasonry

Parham was probably a member of the Freemasons at some time in his life.[14] The 1930 biography on Parham (page 32) says “Mr. Parham belonged to a lodge and carried an insurance on his life. He felt now that he should give this up also.”[5] The question is one of timing, the extent of his involvement, and how much of their teachings became merged with his theology. From his wife’s comments, it appears he was originally involved because of the good deeds they did in looking after their fellow man (something he did not feel the churches did a good job of doing), not because of their beliefs. Because many in the Pentecostal movement oppose the Freemasons so bitterly, some have said that he left the organization when he started his “Full Gospel” ministry. This would fit with the comment in the biography. What is clear is that, at the peak of his ministry (between 1900 and mid-1907) he had little time for involvement in any organizations. His bible school and his preaching were an all consuming task. Even his active later ministry left little free time for activities like lodges. Some feel there is evidence that Parham was still a member of the Freemasons in 1928 (they feel he “appeared to still have Masonic tendencies”), but source documents for this are not quoted. They may be drawing an inference from a letter that Parham wrote back home from his Palestine trip where he said “I am going to bring a gavel home with me … I am going to present it to the Masonic lodge in Baxter Springs with my respects.”(p373)[5] Yet if he had been a member then, it is likely that his wife’s earlier comment in the same book, where it tells of Parham’s decision to leave the lodge, would have been different. She said “I had been taught in the Friend’s church not to believe in secret organizations, and was very glad for his decision” [i.e. to leave the lodge].(p32)[5] It is just as likely that the gavel was simply a present for friends he had known since his original involvement. If Parham was involved in Freemasonry, the ultimate question is what the level of his involvement was, when he was involved, and if there are any indications of these beliefs in his ministry, especially during the period of his highest influence in the early pentecostal movement (from 1900 to 1907). Lower level involvement in smaller communities can be more of a social involvement than a belief in or an understanding of their principles (as it appears was the situation with Parham’s early involvement with the lodge).

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

A NEW BOOK BY AN EX-COC MEMBER
 
inside-church-of-christInside the Churches of Christ: The Reflection of a Former Pharisee on What Every Christian Should Know about the Nondenomination Denomination By Charles Simpson Published by AuthorHouse, 2009 ISBN 1438901402, 9781438901404 308 pages
 
The Pharisee of Jesus’ day placed obstacles between lost souls and salvation in much the same way that modern day Pharisees hinder today’s salvation seekers from accepting Christ. Inside The Churches of Christ reveals those obstacles as they are manifested throughout modern day Churches of Christ. Author, Charles Simpson, reflects an unmistakable Pharisaical attitude toward other Christians, Christian traditions and Christian institutions typical of those he personally witnessed as a 50-year active member of the Churches of Christ. Dozens of quotes from Church of Christ practitioners from all over the USA validate the legalisms prevalent within this group. Church of Christ readers will come away with a new perspective on the actual theology of their own brethren and the potential impact of that theology on other believers. All Christian readers will have a better view of the non-denomination denomination and gain much insight into the Church of Christ claim of being Christ’s “one true church.”

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.

 

 

 

Healing the economy means going beyond ‘What’s in it for me?’
By Douglas Todd 01-10-2009

Healing the battered economy means going beyond the ‘self’; ‘What’s in it for me?’ is not an attitude that will work in the times we face

Many Pentecostal Christians have been among the hardest-hit victims of the economic meltdown in North America.

“Victims” might not be the best word to describe their fate, though. Followers of the popular “Prosperity gospel” suffered because of their own desperation, naivete and uncontrolled desire.

Prosperity gospel adherents have put too much stock in certain Pentecostal leaders in the United States and Canada who preach that God will provide worldly wealth if you just give your soul to Jesus Christ and your donation to the church.

The most prominent proponent of this theology of cars, boats and houses is Joel Osteen, author of Your Best Life Now.

With virtually no assets, many financially struggling Christians attracted to the Prosperity gospel of Osteen and others were eager to jump at the subprime loans offered by sleazy brokers.

Prominent Pentecostals have admitted that many followers believed God was miraculously answering their prayers when a bank gave them a loan they couldn’t afford. However, it’s not only adherents of the Prosperity gospel who have spiritual and moral lessons to draw from the financial collapse. After all, they haven’t been alone in their struggles.

The larger spiritual themes behind this financial meltdown are those of too much blind optimism about the financial system, too much faith in leaders and too much unacknowledged self-interest.

Which brings us to greed.

There can be benefits from modest amounts of each of the Seven Deadly Sins: anger, lust, envy, sloth, pride, gluttony and greed.

While there is something to be said for moderate self-interest fuelling our lives and the economy, greed has careened beyond control on many economic fronts. In the movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko was not much of an exaggeration of a real-life financier when he baldly preached, “Greed is good!”

Rebecca Blank, senior economic analyst for the Brookings Institute and co-author of Is the Market Moral?, recently said: “Greed is good to most economists. It’s greed that makes people work harder, be more productive, and helps the economy grow. Greed has certain economic advantages. It’s hard for an economist not to say that.

“But greed is clearly partially responsible for where we are right now. There’s a level beyond which greed can go too far, and . . . being greedy for more goods and to make another buck can make me stop paying attention to the effects of my action on you. That is when greed clearly becomes sinful — even, I think, in economics.”

Moral concerns about our over-avaricious attitudes have even been expressed recently by high-profile evangelical Christian leaders such as Chuck Colson (Richard Nixon’s former right-hand man), who has made a career of praising Jesus Christ in the same breath as free enterprise. Like theologian Michael Novak, Colson believes western democratic capitalism is like a three-legged stool, resting on political freedom, economic freedom and moral restraint. “Take away moral restraint and the stool collapses.”

But Colson’s solution — simply to talk more about morality in churches and elsewhere and to wish for greater moral behaviour — won’t make the economic system more stable or fair. That is what was uncovered through a revealing investigation of the moral behaviour of evangelical leaders by scholar Michael Lindsay, author of Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite.

Lindsay found precious few evangelical executives were “distinguishing themselves from their secular peers” by taking salaries capped, for instance, at a ratio between the highest- and lowest-paid employees of 20:1. Most tried to justify astonishingly luxurious salaries.

Just as the Communist Soviet Union fell apart because it wasn’t realistic to expect everyone to embrace the principle of equality, the western capitalist system cannot sustain itself just by hoping everyone will embrace justice.

Without regulations to enforce society’s moral ideals, the scoundrels prevail. Now nearly all of us are suffering because we were drawn, knowingly and unknowingly, into their unrestricted avarice.

As Aristotle said, “At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.”

Spiritual insight into the economic collapse comes from Martin Marty, of the University of Chicago Divinity School, one of the most distinguished religious historians in North America.

Marty believes the economic meltdown grew out of a growing global obsession with the “self.” He points to the way many economists talk about how the “spreading disease” in the global economy will “self-heal.” But Marty believes the modern free world is fixated on terms such as “self-generating,” “self-developing” and “self-correcting.” It’s the kind of thinking that has led many to over-optimistically advocate for an “unfettered” and “unregulated” market that never impinges on the supremacy of the “self.”

But there are crucial limits to the “self.”

Marty suggests Americans (and, I’d add, many Canadians) haven’t been willing to face the dark, shadow aspects of an economic system and foreign policy that focused on serving only the “self” (including that of the nation).

Just as the Iraq war has proved disastrous on human and financial fronts, Marty says the battered economy is making us look at all aspects of what happens when “the self” is glorified as absolute.

“We are well aware of our own virtue, knowledge, power and security, and these are real enough to be celebrated,” he writes.

“But we did not recognize their undersides: vice, ignorance, weakness and insecurity, which overtook us.”

As a Lutheran, Marty responds to the financial crisis with a secular translation of the “body of Christ” theme, which teaches us to reflect on how “we are members one of another.”

Instead of “self-healing,” he wisely suggests the western economic system needs “mutual” healing.

To use the language of other traditions, a Buddhist might say we need economic solutions that recognize we are all interconnected.

In secular terms, the late American political philosopher John Rawls would teach that we need economic policies beneficial to us all, no matter where we find ourselves on the financial ladder.

The simplest way to put one of the spiritual lessons of the economic collapse, however, is simply to make it clear that creating a healthy society has to go much further than asking, “What’s in it for me?”

dtodd@vancouversun.com

http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/thesearch/archive/2009/01/10/healing-the-battered-economy-means-going-beyond-the-self-what-s-in-it-for-me-is-not-an-attitude-that-will-work-in-the-times-we-face.aspx

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “John Piper and the Prosperity Gospel“, posted with vodpod

 

 

 

Does God Want You To Be Rich?

A growing number of Protestant evangelists raise a joyful Yes! But the idea is poison to other, more mainstream pastors. By DAVID VAN BIEMA, JEFF CHU Posted Sunday, Sep. 10, 2006

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1533448,00.html

When George Adams lost his job at an Ohio tile factory last October, the most practical thing he did, he thinks, was go to a new church, even though he had to move his wife and four preteen boys to Conroe, a suburb of Houston, to do it. Conroe, you see, is not far from Lakewood, the home church of megapastor and best-selling author Joel Osteen.

Osteen’s relentlessly upbeat television sermons had helped Adams, 49, get through the hard times, and now Adams was expecting the smiling, Texas-twanged 43-year-old to help boost him back toward success. And Osteen did. Inspired by the preacher’s insistence that one of God’s top priorities is to shower blessings on Christians in this lifetime–and by the corollary assumption that one of the worst things a person can do is to expect anything less–Adams marched into Gullo Ford in Conroe looking for work. He didn’t have entry-level aspirations: “God has showed me that he doesn’t want me to be a run-of-the-mill person,” he explains. He demanded to know what the dealership’s top salesmen made–and got the job. Banishing all doubt–“You can’t sell a $40,000-to-$50,000 car with menial thoughts”–Adams took four days to retail his first vehicle, a Ford F-150 Lariat with leather interior. He knew that many fellow salesmen don’t notch their first score until their second week. “Right now, I’m above average!” he exclaims. “It’s a new day God has given me! I’m on my way to a six-figure income!” The sales commission will help with this month’s rent, but Adams hates renting. Once that six-figure income has been rolling in for a while, he will buy his dream house: “Twenty-five acres,” he says. “And three bedrooms. We’re going to have a schoolhouse (his children are home schooled). We want horses and ponies for the boys, so a horse barn. And a pond. And maybe some cattle.”

“I’m dreaming big–because all of heaven is dreaming big,” Adams continues. “Jesus died for our sins. That was the best gift God could give us,” he says. “But we have something else. Because I want to follow Jesus and do what he ordained, God wants to support us. It’s Joel Osteen’s ministry that told me. Why would an awesome and mighty God want anything less for his children?”

In three of the Gospels, Jesus warns that each of his disciples may have to “deny himself” and even “take up his Cross.” In support of this alarming prediction, he forcefully contrasts the fleeting pleasures of today with the promise of eternity: “For what profit is it to a man,” he asks, “if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” It is one of the New Testament’s hardest teachings, yet generations of churchgoers have understood that being Christian, on some level, means being ready to sacrifice–money, autonomy or even their lives.

But for a growing number of Christians like George Adams, the question is better restated, “Why not gain the whole world plus my soul?” For several decades, a philosophy has been percolating in the 10 million–strong Pentecostal wing of Christianity that seems to turn the Gospels’ passage on its head: certainly, it allows, Christians should keep one eye on heaven. But the new good news is that God doesn’t want us to wait. Known (or vilified) under a variety of names–Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, Name It and Claim It, Prosperity Theology–its emphasis is on God’s promised generosity in this life and the ability of believers to claim it for themselves. In a nutshell, it suggests that a God who loves you does not want you to be broke. Its signature verse could be John 10: 10: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” In a TIME poll, 17% of Christians surveyed said they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61% believed that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31%–a far higher percentage than there are Pentecostals in America–agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.

“Prosperity” first blazed to public attention as the driveshaft in the moneymaking machine that was 1980s televangelism and faded from mainstream view with the Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart scandals. But now, after some key modifications (which have inspired some to redub it Prosperity Lite), it has not only recovered but is booming. Of the four biggest megachurches in the country, three–Osteen’s Lakewood in Houston; T.D. Jakes’ Potter’s House in south Dallas; and Creflo Dollar’s World Changers near Atlanta–are Prosperity or Prosperity Lite pulpits (although Jakes’ ministry has many more facets). While they don’t exclusively teach that God’s riches want to be in believers’ wallets, it is a key part of their doctrine. And propelled by Osteen’s 4 million–selling book, Your Best Life Now, the belief has swept beyond its Pentecostal base into more buttoned-down evangelical churches, and even into congregations in the more liberal Mainline. It is taught in hundreds of non-Pentecostal Bible studies. One Pennsylvania Lutheran pastor even made it the basis for a sermon series for Lent, when Christians usually meditate on why Jesus was having His Worst Life Then. Says the Rev. Chappell Temple, a Methodist minister with the dubious distinction of pastoring Houston’s other Lakewood Church (Lakewood United Methodist), an hour north of Osteen’s: “Prosperity Lite is everywhere in Christian culture. Go into any Christian bookstore, and see what they’re offering.”

The movement’s renaissance has infuriated a number of prominent pastors, theologians and commentators. Fellow megapastor Rick Warren, whose book The Purpose Driven Life has outsold Osteen’s by a ratio of 7 to 1, finds the very basis of Prosperity laughable. “This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy?”, he snorts. “There is a word for that: baloney. It’s creating a false idol. You don’t measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn’t everyone in the church a millionaire?”

The brickbats–both theological and practical (who really gets rich from this?)–come especially thick from Evangelicals like Warren. Evangelicalism is more prominent and influential than ever before. Yet the movement, which has never had a robust theology of money, finds an aggressive philosophy advancing within its ranks that many of its leaders regard as simplistic, possibly heretical and certainly embarrassing.

Prosperity’s defenders claim to be able to match their critics chapter and verse. They caution against broad-brushing a wide spectrum that ranges from pastors who crassly solicit sky’s-the-limit financial offerings from their congregations to those whose services tend more toward God-fueled self-help. Advocates note Prosperity’s racial diversity–a welcome exception to the American norm–and point out that some Prosperity churches engage in significant charity. And they see in it a happy corrective for Christians who are more used to being chastened for their sins than celebrated as God’s children. “Who would want to get in on something where you’re miserable, poor, broke and ugly and you just have to muddle through until you get to heaven?” asks Joyce Meyer, a popular television preacher and author often lumped in the Prosperity Lite camp. “I believe God wants to give us nice things.” If nothing else, Meyer and other new-breed preachers broach a neglected topic that should really be a staple of Sunday messages: Does God want you to be rich?

As with almost any important religious question, the first response of most Christians (especially Protestants) is to ask how Scripture treats the topic. But Scripture is not definitive when it comes to faith and income. Deuteronomy commands believers to “remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth”, and the rest of the Old Testament is dotted with celebrations of God’s bestowal of the good life. On at least one occasion–the so-called parable of the talents (a type of coin)–Jesus holds up savvy business practice (investing rather than saving) as a metaphor for spiritual practice. Yet he spent far more time among the poor than the rich, and a majority of scholars quote two of his most direct comments on wealth: the passage in the Sermon on the Mount in which he warns, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth … but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”; and his encounter with the “rich young ruler” who cannot bring himself to part with his money, after which Jesus famously comments, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Both statements can be read as more nuanced than they at first may seem. In each case it is not wealth itself that disqualifies but the inability to understand its relative worthlessness compared with the riches of heaven. The same thing applies to Paul’s famous line, “Money is the root of all evil,” in his first letter to Timothy. The actual quote is, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”

So the Bible leaves plenty of room for a discussion on the role, positive or negative, that money should play in the lives of believers. But it’s not a discussion that many pastors are willing to have. “Jesus’ words about money don’t make us very comfortable, and people don’t want to hear about it,” notes Collin Hansen, an editor at the evangelical monthly Christianity Today. Pastors are happy to discuss from the pulpit hot-button topics like sex and even politics. But the relative absence of sermons about money–which the Bible mentions several thousand times–is one of the more stunning omissions in American religion, especially among its white middle-class precincts. Princeton University sociologist Robert Wuthnow says much of the U.S. church “talks about giving but does not talk about the broader financial concerns people have, or the pressures at work. There has long been a taboo on talking candidly about money.”

In addition to personal finances, a lot of evangelical churches have also avoided any pulpit talk about social inequality. When conservative Christianity split from the Mainline in the early 20th century, the latter pursued their commitment to the “social gospel” by working on poverty and other causes such as civil rights and the Vietnam-era peace movement. Evangelicals went the other way: they largely concentrated on issues of individual piety. “We took on personal salvation–we need our sins redeemed, and we need our Saviour,” says Warren. But “some people tended to go too individualistic, and justice and righteousness issues were overlooked.”

A recent Sunday at Lakewood gives some idea of the emphasis on worldly gain that disturbs Warren. Several hundred stage lights flash on, and Osteen, his gigawatt smile matching them, strides onto the stage of what used to be the Compaq Center sports arena but is now his church. “Let’s just celebrate the goodness of the Lord!” Osteen yells. His wife Victoria says, “Our Daddy God is the strongest! He’s the mightiest!”

And so it goes, before 14,000 attendees, a nonstop declaration of God’s love and his intent to show it in the here and now, sometimes verging on the language of an annual report. During prayer, Osteen thanks God for “your unprecedented favor. We believe that 2006 will be our best year so far. We declare it by faith.” Today’s sermon is about how gratitude can “save a marriage, save your job [and] get you a promotion.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever preached a sermon about money,” he says a few hours later. He and Victoria meet with TIME in their pastoral suite, once the Houston Rockets’ locker and shower area but now a zone of overstuffed sofas and imposing oak bookcases. “Does God want us to be rich?” he asks. “When I hear that word rich, I think people say, ‘Well, he’s preaching that everybody’s going to be a millionaire.’ I don’t think that’s it.” Rather, he explains, “I preach that anybody can improve their lives. I think God wants us to be prosperous. I think he wants us to be happy. To me, you need to have money to pay your bills. I think God wants us to send our kids to college. I think he wants us to be a blessing to other people. But I don’t think I’d say God wants us to be rich. It’s all relative, isn’t it?” The room’s warm lamplight reflects softly off his crocodile shoes.

Osteen is a second-generation Prosperity teacher. His father John Osteen started out Baptist but in 1959 withdrew from that fellowship to found a church in one of Houston’s poorer neighborhoods and explore a new philosophy developing among Pentecostals. If the rest of Protestantism ignored finances, Prosperity placed them center stage, marrying Pentecostalism’s ebullient notion of God’s gifts with an older tradition that stressed the power of positive thinking. Practically, it emphasized hard work and good home economics. But the real heat was in its spiritual premise: that if a believer could establish, through word and deed (usually donation), that he or she was “in Jesus Christ,” then Jesus’ father would respond with paternal gifts of health and wealth in this life. A favorite verse is from Malachi: “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse … and try Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘If I will not for you open the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.'” (See boxes.)

It is a peculiarly American theology but turbocharged. If Puritanism valued wealth and Benjamin Franklin wrote about doing well by doing good, hard-core Prosperity doctrine, still extremely popular in the hands of pastors like Atlanta megachurch minister Creflo Dollar, reads those Bible verses as a spiritual contract. God will pay back a multiple (often a hundredfold) on offerings by the congregation. “Poor people like Prosperity,” says Stephen Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University. “They hear it as aspirant. They hear, ‘You can make it too–buy a car, get a job, get wealthy.’ It can function as a form of liberation.” It can also be exploitative. Outsiders, observes Milmon Harrison of the University of California at Davis, author of the book Righteous Riches, often see it as “another form of the church abusing people so ministers could make money.”

In the past decade, however, the new generation of preachers, like Osteen, Meyer and Houston’s Methodist megapastor Kirbyjon Caldwell, who gave the benediction at both of George W. Bush’s Inaugurals, have repackaged the doctrine. Gone are the divine profit-to-earnings ratios, the requests for offerings far above a normal 10% tithe (although many of the new breed continue to insist that congregants tithe on their pretax rather than their net income). What remains is a materialism framed in a kind of Tony Robbins positivism. No one exemplifies this better than Osteen, who ran his father’s television-production department until John died in 1999. “Joel has learned from his dad, but he has toned it back and tapped into basic, everyday folks’ ways of talking,” says Ben Phillips, a theology professor at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. That language is reflected in Your Best Life Now, an extraordinarily accessible exhortation to this-world empowerment through God. “To live your best life now,” it opens, to see “your business taking off. See your marriage restored. See your family prospering. See your dreams come to pass …” you must “start looking at life through eyes of faith.” Jesus is front and center but not his Crucifixion, Resurrection or Atonement. There are chapters on overcoming trauma and a late chapter on emulating God’s generosity. (And indeed, Osteen’s church gave more than $1 million in relief money after Hurricane Katrina.) But there are many more illustrations of how the Prosperity doctrine has produced personal gain, most memorably, perhaps, for the Osteen family: how Victoria’s “speaking words of faith and victory” eventually brought the couple their dream house; how Joel discerned God’s favor in being bumped from economy to business class.

Confronting such stories, certain more doctrinally traditional Christians go ballistic. Last March, Ben Witherington, an influential evangelical theologian at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky, thundered that “we need to renounce the false gospel of wealth and health–it is a disease of our American culture; it is not a solution or answer to life’s problems.” Respected blogger Michael Spencer–known as the Internet Monk–asked, “How many young people are going to be pointed to Osteen as a true shepherd of Jesus Christ? He’s not. He’s not one of us.” Osteen is an irresistible target for experts from right to left on the Christian spectrum who–beyond worrying that he is living too high or inflating the hopes of people with real money problems–think he is dragging people down with a heavy interlocked chain of theological and ethical errors that could amount to heresy.

Most start out by saying that Osteen and his ilk have it “half right”: that God’s goodness is biblical, as is the idea that he means us to enjoy the material world. But while Prosperity claims to be celebrating that goodness, the critics see it as treating God as a celestial ATM. “God becomes a means to an end, not the end in himself,” says Southwestern Baptist’s Phillips. Others are more upset about what it de-emphasizes. “[Prosperity] wants the positive but not the negative,” says another Southern Baptist, Alan Branch of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo. “Problem is, we live on this side of Eden. We’re fallen.” That is, Prosperity soft-pedals the consequences of Adam’s fall–sin, pain and death–and their New Testament antidote: Jesus’ atoning sacrifice and the importance of repentance. And social liberals express a related frustration that preachers like Osteen show little interest in battling the ills of society at large. Perhaps appropriately so, since, as Prosperity scholar Harrison explains, “philosophically, their main way of helping the poor is encouraging people not to be one of them.”

Most unnerving for Osteen’s critics is the suspicion that they are fighting not just one idiosyncratic misreading of the gospel but something more daunting: the latest lurch in Protestantism’s ongoing descent into full-blown American materialism. After the eclipse of Calvinist Puritanism, whose respect for money was counterbalanced by a horror of worldliness, much of Protestantism quietly adopted the idea that “you don’t have to give up the American Dream. You just see it as a sign of God’s blessing,” says Edith Blumhofer, director of Wheaton College’s Center for the Study of American Evangelicals. Indeed, a last-gasp resistance to this embrace of wealth and comfort can be observed in the current evangelical brawl over whether comfortable megachurches (like Osteen’s and Warren’s) with pumped-up day-care centers and high-tech amenities represent a slide from glorifying an all-powerful God to asking what custom color you would prefer he paint your pews. “The tragedy is that Christianity has become a yes-man for the culture,” says Boston University’s Prothero.

Non-prosperity parties from both conservative and more progressive evangelical camps recently have been trying to reverse the trend. Eastern University professor Ron Sider’s book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, a fringe classic after its publication in 1977, is selling far more copies now, and some young people are even acting on its rather radical prescriptions: a sprinkling of Protestant groups known loosely as the New Monastics is experimenting with the kind of communal living among the poor that had previously been the province of Catholic orders. Jim Wallis, longtime leader of one such community in Washington and the editor of Sojourners magazine, has achieved immense exposure lately with his pleas that Evangelicals engage in more political activism on behalf of the poor.

And then there is Warren himself, who by virtue of his energy, hypereloquence and example (he’s working in Rwanda with government, business and church sectors) has become a spokesman for church activism. “The church is the largest network in the world,” he says. “If you have 2.3 billion people who claim to be followers of Christ, that’s bigger than China.”

And despite Warren’s disdain for Prosperity’s theological claims, some Prosperity churches have become players in the very faith-based antipoverty world he inhabits, even while maintaining their distinctive theology. Kirbyjon Caldwell, who pastors Windsor Village, the largest (15,000) United Methodist church in the country, can sound as Prosperity as the next pastor: “Jesus did not die and get up off the Cross so we could live lives full of despair and disappointment,” he says. He quotes the “abundant life” verse with all earnestness, even giving it a real estate gloss: “It is unscriptural not to own land,” he announces. But he’s doing more than talk about it. He recently oversaw the building of Corinthian Pointe, a 452-unit affordable-housing project that he claims is the largest residential subdivision ever built by a nonprofit. Most of its inhabitants, he says, are not members of his church.

Caldwell knows that prosperity is a loaded term in evangelical circles. But he insists that “it depends on how you define prosperity. I am not a proponent of saying the Lord’s name three times, clicking your heels and then you get what you ask for. But you cannot give what you do not have. We are fighting what we call the social demons. If I am going to help someone, I am going to have to have something with which to help.”

Caldwell knows that the theology behind this preacherly rhetoric will never be acceptable to Warren or Sider or Witherington. But the man they all follow said, “By their fruits you will know them,” and for some, Corinthian Pointe is a very convincing sort of fruit. Hard-line Prosperity theology may always seem alien to those with enough money to imagine making more without engaging God in a kind of spiritual quid pro quo. And Osteen’s version, while it abandons part of that magical thinking, may strike some as self-centered rather than God centered. But American Protestantism is a dynamic faith. Caldwell’s version reminds us that there is no reason a giving God could not invest even an awkward and needy creed with a mature and generous heart. If God does want us to be rich in this life, no doubt it’s this richness in spirit that he is most eager for us to acquire.

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Did The Prosperity Gospel Play A Role In Suprime Crisis?
Oct.03, 2008 in Commentary, Economy
According to this author, the answer is “Yes”.

Has the so-called Prosperity Gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis? That’s what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California Riverside, he realized that Prosperity’s central promise — that God would “make a way” for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, toxic expression during sub-prime boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe “God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house.” The results, he says, “were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers.”

Others think he may be right. Says Anthea Butler, an expert in pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York state, “The pastor’s not gonna say ‘go down to Wachovia and get a loan’ but I have heard, ‘even if you have a poor credit rating God can still bless you — if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you’ll get that house, or that car or that apartment.’” (more…)

When I read the title of this article, admittedly I dismissed it as far-reaching speculation. But after reading it and taking the time to reflect upon my own experiences in the church, I think the author is on to something.

For starters, I think that there is enough blame to go around–STARTING ON MAIN STREET.

My Atlanta Experience

I remember how pastors would tell folks about how the Lord wanted them to move into home ownership–all while steering them to certain brokers and banks. I remember saying to myself “folks are getting broke off over this and the Lord has nothing to do with it. This is just a plain ol’ hustle.” Brokers would be publicly acknowledged in front of the congregation as they would convince the church that all of this was just his/her way of “giving back to the Lord”. No! He was giving back to the pastor as a way of thanking him for sending the business. Again, the Lord had NUTTIN to do with this arrangement. I saw all of this during the early stages of the housing boom.

My wife and I were part of a megachurch where the pastor made it a priority to move all the renters in his congregation into home ownership. He tied the whole thing into how God moved Israel into the promise land. While I agreed with the pastor that far too many of us have been renting too long, the huge influx of moving folks with bad credit into McMansions had me a bit nervous. This took place right at the time we were preparing to move out of state.

All of a sudden, getting approved for a loan with bad credit was seen as a miracle from God–all because of those generous faith offerings folks were told to give earlier.

“I told the Lawd ‘but my credit is too messed up to get a house’. Then I heard pastor preach about taking a step of faith last Sunday. Don’t you know I applied for the loan and now I am the proud owner of a 5 bedroom house…”.

These types of ‘testimonies’ were common in the churches I attended back when the market was getting hot.

I am of the opinion that any pastor who encouraged parishioners to commit to predatory-type loans while cloaking the whole thing as “God’s will for their lives” should be thrown out of office. Part of me is telling me to name names of pastors who I know engaged in this practice. I’ll chill with that idea for now.

Again, I must stress that churches that participated in peddling these loans do share A PART of the blame.

http://www.blackinformant.com/2008/10/03/did-the-prosperity-gospel-play-a-role-in-suprime-crisis

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The Word of Faith Movement and the Capture of the Mind

One of the ways that WOF (Word of Faith) harms people is that it uses their own willingness to believe something which is false – against the person who is doing the “believing”.

Many of these people who are in WOF actually have been in this kind of stuff for their entire lives (some of the WOF teachers started back in the 1950s or before). But many of the people who are in WOF are NEW to the movement. Where did or do these people come from ?

Don’t they come from other churches ? Isn’t there some kind of implication that these churches – from which the WOF converts came – did Not teach people

1) how to rightly divide the Word of God or

2) how to study the Bible or

3) how to identify important doctrines in the Bible or

4) how to spot a cult or identify false teachers ???

We are not proposing that individual believers don’t have a choice, and don’t have a responsibility to educate themselves. Clearly they do, whether someone informs this of that or not, and they are {and will be} held responsible by God, for the doctrine that they believe. The Bible tells all of us to be on our guard and warns about Spiritual deception and also about the need to stay constantly in the Word (the Bible) So That …we will continue to grow spiritually.

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Scamming the Lamb’s Fam: Hireling Mike Murdock Gets Paid $100,000 For Twisting the Gospel on the Inspiration Network  See video here

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But having said that – the failure of the leaders and teachers in those local churches, would seem to be an indication of the spiritual weakness and sickness of the Church in general, that it would provide an “impression of safety and stability”, while seeming to encourage the Lack of Spiritual grounding and the Lack of development of Spiritual Maturity.

Thank God we should not leave it up to our churches, and that we can find others and good authors to help us grow spiritually. But it remains disappointing to see many people go to church but only find the confirmation of a lack of Biblically grounded and encouraging teaching.

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Are some Christians practicing Witches Unaware? Prosperity Gospel to blame for economic woes?  <- link LIVE RADIO TUESDAY 10pm on BlogTalkRadio.com/How2BecomeAChristian

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These implications seem to very serious. In many cases, the original independent local churches (around today) have almost entirely failed in their Biblical duty to educate and thoroughly ground the Christians who attend in the Bible, and especially the new Christians. But now the WOF [Word of Faith Movement] is becoming so large that it will likely continue to absorb those same former “local” churches and get many of those churches to adopt WOF theology and teachings.

http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/wof_&_the_mind.htm

 

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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 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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“Each of us has to face the matter-either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.” Gordon B. Hinckley, LDS General Conference, Spring 2003

As Michael Carr noted in his essay “Is the LDS Church the One True Church” (See http://zarahemlacitylimits.com/essays/LosingBelief/one_true_church1.html), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Church”, the “Mormon Church”, the “LDS Church”) and many other religious faiths promote the idea that their way of approaching god is either the only legitimate way, or the best way.

The “one true church” idea is particularly influential within the Mormon Church. While the Catholics, for example, have that belief on their books, it is my perception that it has little effect on the average Catholic. However, the daily behaviour and worldview of the average faithful Mormon is heavily influenced by this idea.

As I have deconstructed my experience within the Mormon Church, I have tried to understand where this idea comes from and how it has affected me. For the moment, however, I wish to focus on one small, but important, aspect of this issue. That is, why would the “one true church” idea be of value to religious leaders who are trying to persuade their followers to continue to follow?

I began to wonder about this question years ago when I noticed the frequency with which Church members and leaders repeated to each other what I have come to call the “one true church mantra”. That is, “The Church is true.” This is shorthand within the Mormon community for the concept that the Mormon Church is god’s one and only true church on the face of the earth – the sole organization with god’s authority to perform the ordinances necessary to unite families in the hereafter and to gain entry into god’s domain, known as the celestial kingdom.

The one true church mantra is repeated regularly when Mormons gather. It is included in virtually every talk or lesson given during Mormon meetings, including the daily religious instruction that most Mormon teenagers receive through the Seminary program. Church members are taught that it should be included each time they state their beliefs (known in the LDS community as “bearing testimony”), and hence it is repeated by virtually everyone (including small children) who bears testimony at the monthly meetings held by Mormon congregations for that purpose. Mormon families are encouraged to bear this testimony to each other at family gatherings, including weekly Family Home Evenings and during the daily scripture study sessions that they are encouraged to hold. It is at least the subtext, if not the text, of many daily family prayers. It regularly finds its place into correspondence between close friends and family members. To test my instinct in that regard, I just opened the family letter that I received from my father and mother this morning, and found their testimony stated both implicitly and explicitly. The one true church mantra also plays a role in Mormon music, and must be stated as a belief by anyone who wishes to enter a Mormon temple, even for the purpose of simply attending the wedding of a family member. Most mormon missionaries express their testimony, including the belief that the Church is “true”, many times a day throughout the course of their missionary service. Etc. It is beyond doubt that great resources within the Mormon community are devoted to hammering this idea into the collective and individual Mormon psyche.

My study of sociology over the years has led me to conclude that when a message of this sort is given a prominent place within a group of people that it must play an important function. That function is often quite different from what those inside the organization, with a limited view of how it affects them, might think. It took me years, and a trip outside of the Mormon Church, to put my finger on the one true church idea’s function.

It is my view that the “one true church” concept sets up a false dichotomy that makes it easier for religious leaders to control their followers. For example, if the Mormon Church is either 100% god’s true church, or a fraud, and I have a good feeling about some of my experience with it, does that not mean that the rest (about which I don’t have a good feeling) must all be true? Does this not mean that I must give complete obedience to Church authorities, even though some of what they tell me to do makes me feel uneasy, or even bad? Does it not mean that some theory yet to be discovered, or one of the current crop that appear to have miniscule probability of predicting reality, must eventually save the day on the Book of Mormon’s historicity and the multitude of other “reality” problems the Church’s foundational stories have? In these and other ways, the one true church idea greatly aids the Mormon faithful to make the willing suspension of disbelief required to remain faithful.

The “black v. white” approach at the heart of the one true church concept also facilitates the Church’s system of conversion and belief maintenance. Church members and potential converts are told to read the Book of Mormon and that they will have a good feeling about it. This may occur simply because the Book of Mormon has some good things to say. In my case, which is typical, the process was helped along by the fact that most of my Mormon friends and relatives regularly told me that they had these good feelings, while for some reason I had not. This created an anxiety in me that grew over a period of years, and became acute as the time for me to commit to serve a mission approached, and my friends were making that commitment.

I accepted the idea that the Church must be completely true or completely false. I had been taught that from early childhood, and did not have a frame of reference within which I could question it. I also felt some good things when I read the Book of Mormon, and my anxiety started to dissipate as I experienced the nascent feeling that the book was “true”. The psychologists and brain architecture researchers tell us that the combination of the above elements is enough to create a minor epiphany, which is how I would describe the moment at which I was struck by the realization that the whole thing MUST BE TRUE! This experience became the unshakable bedrock on which my testimony stood. And how could the whole thing be false if I have felt something so good about it? That part can’t be false. And from there the true – false dichotomy led me to the conclusion that the whole thing must be true. The Church then encouraged me to express this belief, in the form of my testimony, on a regular basis in the fashion described above. This drilled my newfound belief deep into my subconscious. It is my view that the primary function of the LDS missionary program is just that: to engrain as deeply as possible the one true church mantra in the group of people traditionally the most likely to question the values of any group – young males.

And what about belief and its connection to guilt and from there to control? If the whole thing is true, then I am subject to a massive body of requirements each one of which is a source of guilt, and hence a control lever. If I feel at liberty to believe what I choose, most of my guilt goes away, and with it goes most of the Church’s ability to get me to do what it wants.

During my twenty-year plus tenure as a Mormon leader, I heard the terms “cafeteria style Mormons” or “cultural Mormons” used pejoratively to refer to members of the LDS Church who were not as obedient to leadership dictates as the leaders wished them to be. Such members are not as dedicated, obedient etc. as their “faithful” peers, and the leaders fear that such a lax attitude could spread like a form of cancer. This scares the leadership, as do intellectuals who talk openly about problems related to the Book of Mormon’s historicity and certain distasteful aspects of Joseph Smith’s history. In particular, the leaders fear those Mormons who are prepared to accept that the Book of Mormon contains some inspired writing, but that Joseph Smith made many mistakes while writing it that they are free to reject. If members of the Church feel free to reject some of what Joseph Smith said, they will surely feel free to reject the parts of what current leaders say that do not suit them. This is what the leaders most fear. This approach is a much greater threat to Church leadership than are rabid anti-Mormons.

Cultural Mormons do not do what they are told unless it makes sense, and hence they erode leadership authority. And if they are natural leaders, their attitudes are likely to affect the masses. The sheppard (if not the flock) is better off without such sheep. Hence when they are identified, they must at a minimum be silenced (as long as you are silent, you will be left alone but perhaps watched carefully), but preferably brought back into line. Those who will not get back into line are excommunicated, or as was the case with me, hand in their membership when talk of a “court of love” being held in their honour becomes serious.

To test the sensibility of the black v. white approach, try to think of any other aspect of life in which it would serve us well as a decision making model. Do we accept all of what any school of political thought tells us? How about parenting or child rearing theory? Relationship theory? Educational theory? Economics? Medicine? I cannot think of any other aspect of life in which I would be comfortable accepting the ideas that come from a single source as being my sole guide. Religious belief, in my life, had been established as a unique phenomenon, respecting which all of the rules that governed the remainder of my life were suspended. My acceptance of the one true church concept is what made this possible.

The one true church concept broke down for me as I became aware of numerous other religious belief systems that controlled their followers in precisely the way I was controlled by mine, using the same tools. The theories accepted by these communities were contradictory to those accepted in my community. However, the nature of leadership control was much the same. For many years, I assumed that against all odds my community had the truth and all others were mistaken. As I gradually became aware of the errors that Mormon leadership had made over the years, the lights began to come on. My community was as errant as the others. But, the leaders of my community had much in common with the other religious leaders for whom I had been taught to have disdain. And Mormonism’s current leaders were the ones who set up the system designed to keep faithful Mormons, such as me, from understanding their own religious heritage through its history, and hence from understanding the nature of the errors Mormon leaders have made. Guess toward whom the disdain I was taught to have has now been turned?

Here is a more extensive quote from President Hinkley’s talk that is referred to above. There is nothing unusual about it. Countless others of a similar nature could be found. I use this one because it is the most recent I could find.

The book of Revelation declares: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16). …

Each of us has to face the matter – either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.

This is classic scare/control message, particularly when linked to the rest of LDS dogma in the manner indicated above. It is my view that Church and how it operates make the most sense when viewed through a control/authority paradigm. As soon as I began to use that paradigm to try to understand how the Church has influenced me, things came into focus and I was able to both find the threads that unite my past experience and predict with a high probability of success where things were headed. The “one true church” idea is near the foundation of the LDS control and authority oriented system of religious belief.

As one writer I recently read put it, the question is whether we have religious faith, or whether religious faith has us. If we are well enough informed about what our faith is and how it works in our lives to use it to help us live a full and joyous life, then we have religious faith. If, on the other hand, our beliefs are used by others to control us, then our faith has us. Those others need not be current religious leaders. It is possible to surrender our free will to people who wrote books thousands of years ago that purport to tell us what we should do, or even to abstractions of our own invention.

I have resolved to do what I can to ensure that from now on I have faith, instead of being had by it.

http://zarahemlacitylimits.com/essays/one_true_church.html

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Debate Topic: Is water baptism necessary for salvation?

On Tuesday, May 13, 2008 I debated a Mr. Roger Perkins on “Is water baptism necessary for salvation?”. Mr. Perkins is a oneness believer and an ex-pastor in the oneness movement. Mr. Perkins holds the position that water baptism is necessary for salvation. I deny that assertion and maintain that justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Mr. Perkins opened with a 15 minute speech. I followed with the text below, which I read word for word – except in a few places where I ventured away from the text for a brief moment.

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The topic tonight is “Is water baptism necessary for salvation?”. Notice that when we say “necessary” we mean that there is no exception to the requirement – otherwise the word “necessary” is inappropriate. So, if there is an exception, if someone can be saved without baptism, then water baptism is not necessary.

Has as Mr. Perkins that it water baptism is an absolute necessity? No. He can certainly cite examples of people being baptized after they believe, but citing examples does not prove that water baptism is necessary in order to be saved.

If we can find anyone who is saved without being baptized then we have proved that baptism is not necessary for salvation. This is very easy to do because we find the Old Testament saints who died in the faith and the expectation of the Messiah who were not baptized in water, yet they were saved. Paul brings the Old Testament context into the new. In Romans 4:3, he says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Paul refers to Abraham to say that his faith was reckoned as righteousness. Since only the saved are righteous in God’s site, Abraham’s salvation (though ultimately future as it waited for the sacrifice of Christ) was received by faith – before any rituals were instituted, including the ritual of circumcision.

Two verses later in Romans 4:5, Paul speaks to us today by saying, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.” Notice that the same phrases used: Faith is reckoned as righteousness. Again in Rom. 5:1, he says “therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

So, faith is reckoned as righteousness back in Abraham’s time as well as ours today. Abraham was saved without a ritual and so are we. This is why we are justified by faith. It is not faith in the ritual of water baptism that results in righteousness nor is it faith and water baptism that brings us justification; otherwise, we are not justified by faith but by faith and water baptism, by faith and a ritual.

The ritual of circumcision is condemned by Paul in Galatians 5 as having no part of salvation. He condemns the Judaizers for their desire to participate in a ritual and add it to their faith in Christ.

A ritual is a ceremony that is done by one or more persons. Circumcision involves two parties: the one performing the action and the one receiving the action. Likewise, baptism involves two parties: the one performing the action and the one receiving the action. Both are rituals. Both are religious procedures. Both are religious ceremonies. My opponent is requiring a ritual, a ceremony in order to be saved.

I’ve proven that baptism is not necessary for salvation by citing Abraham. But Mr. Perkins might say that my approach is misguided and that the Old Testament saints were under a different “dispensation” or “requirement” than we are today and that we could not require that they be held to Christian baptism since Christian baptism had not yet been instituted. If that is so, then water baptism is not necessary for salvation. It is simple logic.

Nevertheless, for the sake of continuing our debate, let’s limit our discussion to whether or not water baptism is necessary for us now. Do we need to be baptized in water in order to be justified by faith?

The answer is no because if it were necessary then it would violate the Scriptures’ clear teaching that justification is by grace through faith. It is never said that we are justified by faith and something whether it be law, ceremony, or sincerity of heart.  

Now, my opponent has turned to Scripture and quoted various verses about water baptism and said the Scriptures teach it is necessary. But this has not been established. He has inferred that it is necessary by citing the pattern of baptism after belief. In fact, there is no scripture that says “baptism is necessary for salvation”. We see no verses that say we are condemned if we don’t get baptized, but we do see scripture that says we are condemned if we don’t believe. Mark 16:16 says “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” John 3:18 says, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already.” If baptism is necessary for salvation then we should find verses that say “and he who is not baptized will be condemned.” But no such verse exists.

Now Paul preached the gospel and he said in 1 Cor. 1:15-17, “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 that no man should say you were baptized in my name. 16 Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel….” If baptism is necessary for salvation, why is Paul saying he came to preach the gospel and not to baptize? Why is Paul saying he’s glad he did not baptize except a very few people? Paul is too smart to make the mistake of not baptizing people if people are erringly claiming to be baptized into his name. It would be like me saying, “I’m not going to preach salvation in Christ by faith because someone might say they received it in the name of Matt Slick.” I am obligated to preach the gospel that saves regardless of whether or not someone mistakenly points to me or to God in the process. I’ll point to God. I’ll point to justification by faith alone in Christ alone… not to justification by faith and water baptism, not to justification by faith and circumcision, not to justification by faith and going to church, not to justification by faith and any other human ritual that would add to the finished work of Christ and, thereby, insult the cross.

Again, Paul said he came to preach the gospel not to baptize. In fact, Paul tells us that it is the gospel that saves, and baptism is excluded from what he says the gospel is. He says in 1 Cor. 15:1-4, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel … by which also you are saved…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Baptism is not mentioned as part of that which saves us.

In Acts 16:27-34 when the jailer had been awakened by an earthquake and he saw that the prisoners under his charge did not escape he asked Paul “what must I do to be saved?” The answer was simple, “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, you and your household.” He was then immediately baptized. Notice that Paul did not say that you must believe the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized in order to be saved. He left baptism out. He said believe. If baptism is necessary for salvation, then why did Paul exclude it?

In Acts 10:44-47 it says, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45 And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also. 46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?”. These people were saved. The gift of the Holy Spirit was on the Gentiles and they were speaking in tongues. Tongues is a gift given to the members of the Christian Church, as 1 Cor. 14:1-5 shows us. Also, unbelievers don’t praise God. They can’t because praise to the true God is a deep spiritual matter that is foreign to the unsaved. 1 Cor. 2:14 says the unbeliever does not receive or understand spiritual things and Rom. 3:10-12 says the unbeliever does not seek for God and is a hater of God. Therefore, the ones in Acts 10:44-47 who are speaking in tongues and praising God are definitely saved and they are saved before they are baptized. This simply isn’t an exception. It is a reality. 

Another way of dealing with the baptism issue is with a brief discussion about someone on her deathbed in a hospital. And let me tell you, I have spoken with at least two to hospital chaplains who told me that this happens.

Let’s say there is a person who is dying and the Chaplain comes in and gives him the gospel. Then under the conviction of the Holy Spirit which is in accordance with John 16:8, the person believes that Jesus died for his sins, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Scriptures. This person confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord (Rom. 10:9-10), prays to Christ (1 Cor. 1:2; John 14:14), and receives Christ (John 1:12), by faith but dies before water baptism is administered, is that person saved or damned?

If water baptism is necessary, then that person is damned to hell even though he trusted in Christ, even though he trusted in the sacrifice of Christ, even though he by faith receive Christ. He would be damned to hell because he did not participate in the human ritual. He would be damned to hell because, he would not be justified by faith, but by faith and the ritual of water baptism.

If Mr. Perkins says he does not know if the person goes to heaven or hell, and water baptism is not necessary because if it were, he would be in hell.

Paul tells us in Romans 4:5, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness,” and again in Romans 5:1, “therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We are justified by faith, not by faith and baptism, not by faith and a ritual. Christ’s work is sufficient in itself for his complete and finished and there is nothing we could add to it. This is why we receive our salvation by faith. This is why we are justified by faith, this is why baptism is not necessary for salvation, because otherwise, it is not justification by faith.

http://www.carm.org/oneness/debate_baptism.htm

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Baptism Verses with responses

On May 13, 2008 I was in a formal debate with a oneness believer who said baptism was necessary for salvation. Following are my notes I prepared for that debate.  I put htem here as an additional help to readers.

If you would like to read the opening paper I read at the debate, please see Matt Slick’s Opening Statement on Baptism.

  1. Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
    1. This verse does not to say that baptism is necessary for salvation. It says that baptism is part of making disciples.
    2. If baptism is necessary for salvation then it must also be true that teaching disciples to observe all that Jesus commanded is necessary as well. But this would be salvation by works. Instead, Jesus is explicitly declaring how to make disciples – by baptizing them and teaching them to observe what Christ and commanded.
  2. Mark 16:16, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
    1. I could easily say that he who believes and goes to church will be saved. That is true.  But it is belief that saves, not belief and going to church.  Likewise, if you believe and read your Bible, you’ll be saved.  But it isn’t reading your Bible that saves you.
    2. Likewise, those who believe and are baptized will be saved. But the emphasis is on faith not on baptism. Notice that Mark 16:16 says that he does not believe will be condemned. It does not say that he who is not baptized will not be condemned. If baptism is necessary for salvation, then we should find somewhere in Scripture where it says something to the effect of if you’re not baptized, you’re not saved. But we find no such statement.
  3. Luke 7:30, “But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.”
    1. This is not a Christian baptism that is referenced here. It is the baptism of John so this cannot be used to demonstrate baptism is necessary for salvation.
  4. John 3:1-5, “Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Him by night, and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
    1. Christian baptism had not yet been instituted when Jesus spoke these words. So how could it be Christian baptism that was being referred to? Nicodemus most probably would have been thinking of John’s baptism of repentance, and certainly not Christian baptism since it had not yet been instituted by Christ.
           I would like to point out that when Jesus says we must be born again, what it actually says in the Greek is we must be born from above. The words “born again” are not there. The words are “born from above.”
    2. There are five different Interpretations to these verses.
      1. The water refers to the natural birth.
        1. The first option looks to the context of Jesus’ words dealing with being born “again” (3:3). Nicodemus responds by mentioning the experience of being born from the womb (v. 4). Jesus then speaks of water and the Spirit and then says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (3:6).  The implication is that the first birth is the natural birth and the second birth is the spiritual birth.  In other words, the water refers to the water of the womb — the first birth.  This seems to have support in the understanding of Nicodemus about entering into the womb to be born a second time.  However, this view is not the most commonly held view.
      2. The water refers to the Word of God.
        1. The verses that seem to suggest this are Eph. 5:26 says, “that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” Some believe that the washing of water is done by means of the Word of God.
        2. John 7:37-38, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’”
      3. The water refers to the Holy Spirit.
        1. The third view says that the water refers to the Holy Spirit. Perhaps Nicodemus was reminded of Ezek. 36:25-27, “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26″Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27″And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” Certainly, Jesus’ own words are applicable here when He says in John 7:37-39, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38″He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'” 39But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
      4. The water refers to the ministry of John the Baptist.
        1. This view says the water is in reference to the water baptism of repentance taught by John the Baptist. Matt. 3:1-6 describes John’s ministry in the desert, his teaching about repentance, and baptizing people into that repentance. Contextually, the first chapter of John mentions John the Baptist in verses 6-8 and 19-36. If John’s ministry is in view here, then Jesus would have been speaking of the “baptism” (the initiatory ordinance) of repentance preached by John the Baptist.
        2. The water refers to the water of baptism as a requirement for salvation.
          1. But this would mean we were not justified by faith.
          2. It would be adding a ritualistic requirement to salvation.
  5. John 19:34, “but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.”
    1. This has nothing to do with water baptism. When someone dies from crucifixion, the heart ruptures, the elements of the blood separate, and water seeps into the chest cavity. This is why the soldier pierced his side because when one looks like water comes out, it means death has occurred.  
  6. Acts 2:38, “And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
    1. What is going on here is that repentance and forgiveness of sins are connected. In the Greek, “repent” is in the plural and so is “your” of “your sins.” They are meant to be understood as being related to each other. It is like saying, “All of you repent, each of you get baptized, and all of you will receive forgiveness.” It isn’t baptism that gets forgiveness of sins, but repentance. You see, repentance is a mark of salvation because it is granted by God (2 Tim. 2:25) and is given to believers only. In this context, only the regenerated, repentant person is to be baptized. Baptism is the manifestation of the repentance, that gift from God that is the sign of the circumcised heart. That is why it says, repent and get baptized.
    2. The Oneness argument says that the word “for” means that you are getting baptized in order to receive forgiveness of sins. Again, if this is what is meant, then we are not receiving the forgiveness of sins when we believe, but after we have performed a ritual. There’s no way around this. Is a ritual also required for our salvation? Is there a work we must perform in order to be saved?
    3. Biblically, a work is a ritual, a law that must be followed. Circumcision was just such a ritual, a ceremony. Paul condemns the Judaizers for adding that ritual, that ceremony to the grace of God. He condemns them because they added a ceremonial requirement to salvation. This is heresy and Paul rightly condemned it.
    4. Baptism is a ritual. It is a ceremony. If it is necessary for salvation, then a ritual must be observed in order to obtain Christ’s forgiveness. This is salvation by grace and ritual, not salvation by grace through faith.
    5. Faith occurs when you believe. You are justified by faith when you believe, otherwise you’re not justified by faith. So, this verse cannot mean that we have to be baptized in water in order to have our sins forgiven.
    6. It means that we are baptized to indentify with the forgiveness of sins.
    7. Mark 1:4, “John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
    8. Also, if we are to understand this verse to mean that baptism is necessary for salvation, then we must also understand that repentance is necessary. But this is a problem because it would require that we be good in order to be saved – but this amounts to justification by works. Of course, we are supposed to repent of our sins, but it is not the repentance of sins that brings us salvation; rather, it is salvation that brings us repentance because unbelievers don’t turn from their sins, only believers do only the saved seek to honor God.
  7. Acts 8:35-38, “And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 And as they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 [And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him.”
    1. There’s nothing in these verses to show that baptism is necessary for salvation. It only says that the Eunuch was baptized after he believed. It shows that a person should be baptized right away after receiving believing in Christ.  
  8. Acts 22:16, ‘And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’
    1. What washes away their sins not water, but calling on the name of Jesus.
    2. The verse does not say be baptized washing away your sins. It says be baptized and wash away your sins calling on his name. What washes away our sins is calling on his name — which would mean we are saved by grace through faith, not grace through faith in water.
  9. Rom. 6:3-5, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.”
    1.  The phrase “baptized into” means here “to identify with.” It cannot mean that baptism is the means by which we enter into union with Christ. This would be ritualistic communion and Paul in no way ever talked in you ritual was necessary in order to be saved.
    2. Instead, Paul taught that baptism represented identification with Christ. Consider 1 Cor. 10:1-4, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.” Therefore we can see it to be baptized into his refrained identification not the means by which were saved.
  10. 1 Cor. 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”
    1. Which baptism is this speaking of, the baptism of water or the baptism of the Spirit.
    2. Eph. 4:5 tells us that there is “one faith, one Lord, one baptism.”
    3. If this means that we get into the church by being baptized in water, and no one is in the Christian church unless he or she has gone through the ritual. This would mean that salvation is not by grace through faith, but by faith and ritual.
    4. The very verse here tells us about being made to drink of the one Spirit. This is an obvious figurative usage but it tells us two things. First, it alludes to the baptism of the spirit, not of water. Second, if we must require that the baptism spoken of here means water, but why not require the literalness also of drinking the Spirit? It it makes no sense composes upon the text. Therefore, this verse is not dealing with water baptism but Spirit baptism.
    5. Acts 11:16, ‘John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
    6. John 7:38, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’ 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”  
  11. Gal. 3:27, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
    1. A. Water baptism is not mentioned here. This is probably a reference to baptism of the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”
    2.  Paul taught that baptism represented identification with Christ. Consider 1 Cor. 10:1-4, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.” Therefore we can see it to be baptized into his refrained identification not the means by which were saved.
    3. This might be a reference to the Roman garment of the full-grown man, assumed when ceasing to be a child.
    4.  Baptism is the identification with Christ, signifying having come to the faith, having died to sin, and risen with the Lord Jesus Christ.
  12. Eph. 5:25-26, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”
    1. There is no mention and baptism at all. Paul associates the washing of water with the word.
    2. If this is referring to water baptism, then it must mean that Christ is the one actually performing the act of baptism on the entire church because it says “just as Christ also loved the church and gave him self up for her that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water…” which would mean baptism.
    3. The reality is that when I lead my wife in devotions with the word, I’m washing her in the word of God. That is how I love her and wash her.
  13. Col. 2:12, “having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”
    1. This verse does not show the necessity of being baptized in order to be saved. It simply speaks about our identification with Christ and are baptism. And nowhere here says baptism is necessary for salvation.
    2. If anything, this verse in its context equates baptism and circumcision: Col. 2:11-12, “in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” Paul is relating the ritual of circumcision with the ritual of baptism, both are covenant signs.
      1. Still, this verse in no way says that water baptism is necessary for salvation. But it does equate circumcision and baptism together. We must be reminded of how Paul condemned the Judaizers for requiring the ritual of circumcision to be saved. We can make a strong case here at requiring the ritual of baptism would likewise be condemned.
  14. Titus 3:5, “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,”
    1. This verse is telling us that regeneration is the washing, not the regeneration of baptism. There is no mention of water baptism here and there certainly is no mention of water baptism being necessary for salvation.  
  15. Heb. 10:22, “let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
    1. Heb. 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
    2. 1 Peter 1:2, “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood…” This is all reference to the Old Testament ceremonies of sprinkling blood in order to cleanse the temple (Heb. 9). This is what the high priest did and Jesus, who is our high priest according to the order of Melchizedek, likewise cleanses us with his blood. This is how our hearts are cleaned, but the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, not by our bodies getting dunked in water.
  16. 1 Pet. 3:21, “And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”
    1. This verse negates water baptism by saying the baptism that saves is not the kind that deals with the removal of dirt in the flesh. That is, it is not the issue of water which washes the body, but that baptism of the heart which is an appeal for a good conscience to God.
    2. Some think that the baptism corresponds to the Ark because it was the Ark that saved them, not the floodwaters. this is a possibility but one of the problems with it is that this interpretation does not seem to stand grammatically since the antecedent of Baptism is most probably in reference to the water, not the Ark.      But, water did not save Noah.  This is why Peter excludes the issue of water baptism being the thing that saves us because he says, “not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God”.  Peter says that is not the application of water that saves us but a pledge of the good conscience. Therefore, baptism here most probably represents the breaking away of the old sinful life and entrance into the new life the same way that the flood waters in Noah’s time was the destruction of the sinful way and once through it known entered into his new life.
    3. Peter’s explanatory comment shows us that the act of physical baptism is not what saves, but the “baptism of appeal to God.”  This appeal to God is by faith the same as Noah’s faith in God led him to build the Ark, enter it, and remain in it.

 

http://www.carm.org/baptism/baptism_verses.htm

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Apostasy and Restoration

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints claims that they are a restoration of Christ’s original Church and not just another denomination of Christianity. All other so-called “Christian Churches” are said to be in apostasy. On page 14 of a 1983 booklet titled, Apostasy And Restoration, the corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints states, “As Latter-day Saints, we testify that shortly after the death of the Lord’s original twelve apostles, there came seventeen hundred years of apostasy and darkness. Then in 1820, the resurrected Savior appeared to Joseph Smith and called him to be a prophet to all the world. Through him came the restoration of the priesthood, the gospel, and the true church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” The booklet goes on to say, “We invite all men to test our claims, to know the truth for themselves.” (Ibid., p.14) We will accept this invitation by investigating some of the claims made in this booklet by the LDS Church and then compare those claims to what God says in scripture. There are four underlined portions in the following that we would like to discuss.

Under the heading, “The Great Apostasy- The Dark Ages” this booklet states, “Some may have known that the Messiah’s church, like the Messiah himself, would meet a violent death.” and “Following the death of the apostles, revelation ceased. The authority of God was no longer among men. Christianity sickened and died.” (Ibid. Pgs. 7,9)

This booklet also states, “Though the Messiah himself set up his true church on earth, yet Satan was able to set in motion- even during the lifetime of Jesus Christ and his apostles- those very countervailing forces that eventually led to the complete apostasy of the true church and the eventual creation of an apostate religion that has been responsible for the extermination of the Messiah’s true followers and the persecution of his chosen people, the Jews .The realization that the Lord’s true Church was not only vulnerable, but destructible, comes as a shock to many people. But if wicked men were able to put to death the Messiah himself, is it so strange that they should also have the power to destroy his church?” (Ibid. p.11)

According to the above, The Church of Jesus Christ met a violent death, sickened and died, fell into complete apostasy and was destroyed. This supposedly happened shortly after the death of the original twelve apostles. This is a very important point for Mormonism. In order for their claim of being the restoration of Christ’s Church to be valid, there needed to be a falling away of the original one. Did the first century Church really fall into complete apostasy? What did Jesus have to say about the subject?

Matthew 16:18- And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the Gates of Hades shall not overpower it. There is one major thing that we wish to point out in this verse. The Greek word for “overpower” is katischuo. It means, “against, and to prevail. To be strong against someone, prevail against or over. Used in a hostile sense, meaning to overcome, vanquish (Matt. 16:18);” (AMG Complete WordStudy Bible and Reference CD) The Greek word for “not” is ou. It means, “Not, no, expressing direct and full negation, independently and absolutely, and hence, objectively.” (Ibid.)

The first thing that needs to be realized about the above LDS quote, is that wicked men were allowed to put Jesus to death. Jesus was not overcome or triumphed over. He willingly laid down his life. In contrast to His willingness to die, He said that His church would not be prevailed over. It is a terrible jump in logic to think that because Jesus laid down His life, that He would allow His church to be overpowered also. Especially in the light of the fact that He specifically says that the Church will not be overpowered.

This is a clear promise made by Christ Himself. His church, once established, will not meet a violent death, sicken and die, fall into complete apostasy or be destroyed. We have one of two choices. Either Jesus was wrong, or the Mormon church is wrong. Jesus also stated, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) If Jesus is wrong, then He can not be trusted and must be viewed as either incompetent or as a liar. If the Mormon church is wrong, then there was no need for a restoration and their claims to be the only true church are false.

Another verse, which refutes the idea of a total apostasy, is Jude 3. “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Notice that this verse says that the faith was delivered, “once for all.” If it was delivered “once for all,” then there is no need to deliver it again. Obviously Jude, inspired by the Holy Spirit, did not believe in a coming total apostasy.

Lastly, we would also like to appeal to the Book of Mormon, for the sake of our Mormon readers. The book of 4th Nephi describes a time when the “true faith” continued to thrive. An official LDS church manual states, “As the original twelve Nephite disciples chosen by the Savior passed away, new disciples were chosen to take their place. This practice evidently continued as long as the Nephites were righteous enough to have a church organization amongst them. The three Nephite disciples who were promised by the Savior that they should live on the earth until his second coming apparently continued to work with the people for several hundred years.” (Book Of Mormon Student Manual, Religion 121-122, 1979 p.450)

We have an unavoidable contradiction. In one official LDS church booklet, the church claims that the apostasy occurred “shortly after the death of the Lord’s original twelve apostles,” while another official publication says that the work continued for “several hundred years.” In the light of what the Bible has clearly stated regarding the endurance of Christ’s church, it is obvious that both LDS quotes are wrong.

http://evidenceministries.org/mormons.php?viewarticle=46

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BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY = An everlasting Gospel which has endured for “all generations”—never to disappear from the earth. Paul warned about those who would preach another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Jesus prophesied that the “gates of hell” wouldn’t prevail against His church, and in so doing, He ruled out complete apostasy (Matthew 16:18). Thus, the Gospel would never have to be restored (Jude 3). Ephesians 3:21 states: “to Him be the glory in the church…to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”1. How can an apostate church give glory to God throughout “all generations”?

GALATIANS 1:6-9: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.…but though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”2.

2 CORINTHIANS 11:3-4: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”

JUDE 3: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once [for all time] delivered unto the saints.” 3.

HEBREWS 12:28: “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”

MATTHEW 16:18: “…I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

EPHESIANS 3:21: “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. A-men”

1 TIMOTHY 3:15: “…that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

http://www.4witness.org/mormon/lds_exp.php#restoration

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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!

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

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THE APOSTASY IS A MORMON FALLACY

Records reveal that Joseph Smith joined the Methodist church in June, 1828, eight years after the date that he later claimed he’d received a vision from God instructing him not to join any of the churches (mentioning the Methodist church by name), as they were all corrupt and their teachings were an abomination in His sight,

After he had joined the Methodist church, the Minister was informed about Smith’s bad reputation, as well as his involvement in the occult. (He had earned his living by promising to divine the whereabouts of hidden treasure, which never ever materialized.) He discussed this with Joseph, explaining that these activities were against everything that the church stood for. However, he was told that he could remain in membership provided that he repented and convinced the church board that he would change his ways. But if he was not prepared to do this, he would be required to formally resign from the Methodist church. Rather than give up the unethical type of lifestyle to which he was so strongly drawn, Joseph chose to resign.

Within two years he had started up his own church (the LDS), claiming that the Christian church had become apostate shortly after the death of Christ’s apostles, and that God had appointed him, as His latter-day prophet, to restore the true church.

Contrary to Joseph Smith’s claims, there has always been a remnant of faithful believers.

Ever since the inception of the Christian church they have been subjected to ongoing persecution, as well as attacks by false prophets, false teachers and the like. But history records a long line of Christian martyrs who have embraced sacrifice, suffering, torture and death rather than compromise their biblical beliefs. And it is a fact that Christians are still being persecuted and martyred today in various places in the world, for the same reason.

The Bible itself clearly disproves the LDS’s completely unsubstantiated claim that the early Christian church went into total apostasy shortly after the death of Christ’s apostles. Firstly, it teaches that the great apostasy will occur right at the very end times, shortly before the second coming of Christ, and will herald the appearance of the anti-Christ, who will display himself as God in the Jewish temple. That time hasn’t arrived yet, as the Jews still have to rebuild their temple.

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, KJV)

Secondly, Christ made the following promises concerning His body of followers (i.e. His church):

… upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it. (Matthew 16:18, KJV).

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20, KJV)

….. And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28:20, KJV)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29, KJV)

….. I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain (John 15:16, KJV) (Italics by author)

….. I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it. ….. I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world … (Revelation 3:8, 10, KJV)

Thirdly, one of the themes that runs steadfastly throughout the Bible is that God has always kept a remnant of faithful believers. The following are some of the scriptures that bear this out:

Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. (1 Kings 19:18, KJV)

Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.(Isaiah 1:9, KJV).

And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt. (Isaiah 11:16, KJV).

Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved. (Romans 9:27, KJV)

Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. (Romans 11:5, KJV)

Fourthly, shortly before his martyrdom, the apostle Peter warned the church against false prophets and false teachers, but then he went on to assure them that God always providentially protects those who are His own, against temptation and apostasy:

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1, KJV)

The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations ….. (2 Peter 2:9, KJV)

In his book “The Trail of Blood,” Dr. J. M. Carroll traces the martyrs of the church of Jesus Christ from its inception right up to the present times.

Then too, history also records that there always has been a faithful remnant who refused to compromise. Many of them paid for this privilege with their own blood.

The LDS church cites many of the practices of Catholicism as proof that the church of Jesus Christ had gone into total apostasy. However, they are wrongly tarring everyone with the same brush. Roman Catholicism does not represent Christendom. What about the faithful remnant of Christ’s true church that history so clearly records were cruelly persecuted by the Roman Catholic church? What about Catholicism’s infamous, cruel and bloody inquisitions? History reveals that faithful Christians have been persecuted, tortured and killed for refusing to compromise the gospel throughout the ages, right up to this present moment in time. Remember all the burnings at the stakes in England, of Christians who refused to recant their biblical beliefs and who remained faithful even in the face of torture and death by burning?

Fox’s Book of Martyrs, still in print, should be a graphic eye-opener to members of the LDS church regarding the faithful remnant of Christ’s true church. Mormons are encouraged to read this book, if they can bear to do so.

There has always been a faithful remnant of the church of Jesus Christ. And don’t be confused by numbers. The Lord Jesus said:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:14, KJV)

Copyright 2007, by Mormonism and Biblical Truth. All rights reserved.

http://www.bibtruth.com/apos.html

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I post these links for you all to be able to easily find the post that have fallen off the front page of this blog. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

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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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How Does the Mormon Church Really View other Churches?

© Spotlight Ministries, Vincent McCann, 2004
www.spotlightministries.org.uk

Many Mormons often give the initial impression that Christian churches are viewed with a certain level of favouritism by the Mormon faith. Zealous young Mormon missionaries, when encountering potential proselytites into the Church, will often side step what Mormonism really thinks of other churches by saying something like: “there is truth in all religions”. However, the truth is that Mormonism views other churches as false religions void of all authority. In fairness to individual Mormons, it must be said that some do not really realise the extent to which the Mormon Church disagrees with Christian denominations, or, at the very least, not really thought through the implications of what they do know. The quotes in this article are all from Mormon sources.

The first reference is very important as it is from the Book of Mormon itself:

“Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the Church of the Lamb of God [i.e.. the Mormon Church] and the other is the church of the devil [i.e.. the Christian Church]; wherefore whosoever 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.” (The Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10).
The following source is also very important as it is a key belief of the Mormon Church and is one of the first things that the Mormon missionaries will teach prospective converts. In the first vision, when Joseph Smith went out into the woods to pray to ask God which Christian denomination he should join, he explains that God allegedly commanded him:

“…I must join none of them [Christian Churches], for they were all wrong…that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight” (Joseph Smith History 1:19).
The popular Mormon book A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, by LeGrand Richards contains many derogatory remarks against the churches and their beliefs. Some of these are found in chapter 4 headed: “False Doctrines and Universal Apostasy”. Excerpts from this chapter follow below:

“Erroneous Teachings of Christian Churches…One erroneous teaching of many Christian churches is: By faith alone we are saved. This false doctrine would relieve man of the responsibility of his acts…” (p. 24).

“Again, there is the erroneous doctrine of predestination…In his effort to destroy truth, Satan could hardly have hoped to deceive men more effectively and completely than to take from them, through the teaching of such doctrines, a consciousness of their own responsibilities.” (p. 25).

“There is a also the false teaching of one heaven and one hell…” (p. 25).
In chapter 2 of the same book, the God of the Christian Church is mocked under the heading “The Strange Gods of Christendom”. Page 13 likens the Christian God to the pagan ‘gods’ (plural!) that Moses and the Israelites met in the desert:

“These are but typical examples of the gods worshipped by Christian churches in the nineteenth century. Here are gods that Moses told the Israelites they would encounter as they scattered among the nations – gods “which neither see, not hear, not eat, or smell.” (p. 13).
Other similar quotes from Mormon sources follow below:

“…orthodox Christian views of God are Pagan rather than Christian.” (Mormon Doctrine of Deity by B.H. Roberts, p.116).

“…the God whom the ‘Christians’ worship is a being of their own creation…” (Apostle Charles W. Penrose, Journal of Discourses 23:243).

“The Christian world, so called, are heathens as to their knowledge of the salvation of God.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:171).

“The Christian world, I discovered, was like the captain and crew of a vessel on the ocean without a compass, and tossed to and fro whithersoever the wind listed to blow them. When the light came to me, I saw that all the so-called Christian world was grovelling in darkness.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 5:73).

“What! Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute best.” (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 13:225).

“What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing…Why so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest fools; they know neither God nor the things of God.” (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 13:225).

“Believers in the doctrines of modern Christendom will reap damnation to their souls (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.177).

“…brother Joseph B. Nobles once told a Methodist priest, after hearing him describe his god, that the god they worshiped was the “Mormon’s” Devil-a being without a body, whereas our God has a body, parts and passions.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 5:331).

“The Roman Catholic, Greek, and Protestant church, is the great corrupt, ecclesiastical power, represented by great Babylon….” (Orson Pratt, Orson Pratt, Writings of an Apostle, “Divine Authenticity,” no.6, p.84).

“…all the priests who adhere to the sectarian religions of the day with all their followers, without one exception, receive their portion with the devil and his angels.” (The Elders Journal, Joseph Smith Jr., editor, vol.1, no.4, p.60).

“…all other churches are entirely destitute of all authority from God; and any person who receives baptism or the Lord’s supper from their hands will highly offend God, for he looks upon them as the most corrupt people.” (Orson Pratt, The Seer, p. 255).

“Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the “whore of Babylon” whom the lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornication’s and wickedness.” (Orson Pratt, The Seer, p.255).

“Brother Taylor has just said that the religions of the day were hatched in hell. The eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and then kicked on to the earth.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:176).
The Only True Church?


The next few quotes demonstrate how the Mormon Church sees itself as the “only true Church”, with membership being essential to salvation. By implication, in the eyes of Mormonism, all other churches must therefore be false:

“We must come unto Christ by being baptized into his Church. Only in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can we find all the truths that will help us return to our Father in Heaven. Only in the true Church of Christ can we find the authority to perform the necessary gospel ordinances.” (The Restoration: Study Guide, p. 5).

“And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foudation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth…” (Doctrines and Covenants 1:30)

“There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…” (Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 670).

“The Lord provided that salvation should come through his gospel, functioning through his church…But is there such a church?…Is there such a church upon the earth? Until 1830 there was not. It had been lost through the falling away we have described in this pamphlet. In 1830 the Almighty restored his church to earth again.” (Which Church is Right?, p. 17).

“This is the only true church …This is not a church. This is the Church of Jesus Christ. There are churches of men all over the land and they have great cathedrals, synagogues, and other houses of worship running into the hundreds of millions of dollars. They are churches of men. They teach the doctrines of men, combined with the philosophies and ethics and other ideas and ideals that men have partly developed and partly found in sacred places and interpreted for themselves” (Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.421)

 
Attack on the Bible

 
Another way that the Mormon Churchs seeks to undermine the beliefs of Christianity is to attempt to take away its authority by spreading doubt about the Bible, the source of doctrine for the Church:

“The Bible of the Old World has come to us from the manuscripts of antiquity – manuscripts which passed through the hands of uninspired men who changed many parts to suit their own doctrinal ideas. Deletions were common, and, as it now stands, many plain and precious portions and many covenants of the Lord have been lost. As a consequence, those who rely upon it alone stumble and are confused…” (Bruce R. McConkie, “Come: Hear the Voice of the Lord,” The Ensign, December 1985, p 55).

“What shall we say then, concerning the Bible’s being a sufficient guide? Can we rely upon it in its present known corrupted state, as being a faithful record of God’s word? We all know that but a few of the inspired writings have descended to our times,… What few have come down to our day have been mutilated, changed, and corrupted, in such a shameful manner that no two manuscripts agree….Add all this imperfection to the uncertainty of the translation, and who, in his right mind, could, for one moment , suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? Who knows that even one verse of the whole Bible has escaped pollution, so as to convey the same sense now that it did in the original?” (Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, p. 47).

“The Church [the LDS Church] reveres and respects the Bible, but recognises that it is not a complete nor entirely accurate record…” (Holy Bible, King James Version. Located at the back of the LDS KJV of the Bible, p. 624).

“the various versions of the Bible do not accurately record or perfectly preserve the words, thoughts, and interests of the original inspired authors.” (B.R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., p.383.).

“The gathering together of the few scattered manuscripts which compose what is now termed the Bible, was the work of uninspired man…Among the vast number of professedly inspired manuscripts, scattered through the world, man, poor, weak, ignorant man, assumed the authority to select a few, which, according to his frail judgment, he believed or conjectured were of God, but the balance not agreeing, perhaps, with his peculiar notions of divine inspiration, were rejected as spurious. The few, selected from the abundance, were finally arranged into one volume, divided into chapter and verse, and named the Bible.” (Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, p. 3).

“Through the Prophet Joseph Smith,…we learn that the Bible does not contain all that God revealed anciently, nor did it arrive in our day without inaccuracies.” (Kent P. Jackson, Ensign, 2/95, p. 63).

“…the Book of Mormon remains secure, unchanged and unchangeable, …But with the Bible it was not and is not so….it was once in the sole and exclusive care and custody of an abominable organization, founded by the devil himself, likened prophetically unto a great whore, whose great aim and purpose was to destroy the souls of men in the name of religion. In these hands it ceased to be the book it once was.” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Joseph Smith Translation, pp. 12, 13).

http://www.spotlightministries.org.uk/morm&churches.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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