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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.

christian suicide

These questions where asked in a forum I visit. WHAT ABOUT SUICIDE? Can it be forgiven? Is it not written that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, is the only unpardonable sin? The questionnaire has yet to answer the questions himself, but his questions prompted this response and I would like to share it so that other may share it freely if they so wish. The questionaire advocates salvation by works.
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It always saddens me to see those that advocate “self salvation” to bring up suicide. It is always served with a generous portion of apathy and contempt for those who do commit suicide, and even those who are depressed to the point of considering it. There will always be someone that defines suicide as murder and try to state that murderers cannot be forgiven and end up in God’s heaven. The reasoning goes if you can save yourself you can likewise condemn your self. But the bible says that “all” are condemned already. From that we must be rescued.

But what does the bible say about murderers? It says they shall not have a place in God’s heaven. But when the Spirit of the new law of Christ says that we are ALL murders if we get angry at our brothers for no reason, it kind of levels the playing field huh? Like it or not we are all murderers! Have you not heard that if you break one of Gods laws you have broken them all?

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The aberrant pseudo-Christian cults are united against grace and faith alone for justification/salvation.

Spend some time in a Christian debate or discussion community for awhile and you will learn a few things. First and foremost is that there are so many different ways that people believe and teach about certain biblical topics. For those who are NOT well studied and versed on what is and what is not orthodox Christianity can get confused easily. There are only two groups of Christians. Those who adhere to orthodox teachings and those that hold heterodox or aberrant heretical teachings. The difference is that between true Christianity and Pseudo-Christian cults.

While the vast and flagrant differences of the cults on various doctrines and teachings is the first and most obvious thing that a participant or a lurker in those type forums will learn, the most prominent theme and common denominator among them is their united assault against salvation by grace alone, through faith alone. While most cults claim to be the only true church and the only ecclesiastic outlet of salvation, all cults stand united in denying that salvation is by grace apart from works.

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“THE GRACE OF GOD”


“…by grace are ye saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. ”
-Ephesians 2:8

CONSIDER AFRESH the often asked question on the above text: “What is referred to by the last phrase, “it is the gift of God?” Does the apostle teach that grace is the gift of God, or does he say it is salvation, or perhaps that faith is the gift of God?

Look first at the word ‘grace.’ Aside from the Apostle James’ reference to a flower’s vanished glory, both ‘grace’ and ‘favor’ in the New Testament King James Version are always a translation of the same Greek word, charis (khar’ece, Strong #5485). Its first definition in Strong’s Greek Lexicon is “graciousness,…of manner or act.” And it is of interest to note that Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary puts as its first definition of grace, “unmerited divine assistance given man for his regeneration or sanctification.” So grace is favor, “unmerited favor.”

Salvation by Grace

Grace is, therefore, God’s unmerited favor – His goodness toward those who have no claim on, nor reason to expect, divine favor. The principal manifestation of God’s grace has heen in the form of a gift. We think the apostle meant that salvation is “the gift of God,” or, as emphatically put in the Greek, “of God is it the gift.” Salvation is not our achievement, but it is a gift from God. That truth is made stronger by contrast. It is ‘not of ourselves’ and “not of works.” Salvation is indeed the most extraordinary expression of God’s grace.

Salvation is of divine origin. But it is not anything that God was bound to arrange by the necessity of His nature. It is the result of His gracious will. Had it not been for His good pleasure, salvation would never have come. “By grace are ye saved.” The Greek grammar denotes not the act of being saved, but the fact of having been saved. God’s grace rather than human merit is the source of the whole arrangement. We are saved gratuitously. Salvation is a gift; it is not earned.

Faith

But what about faith? We inquire into this because, other than the clearly stated gift of miraculously-conferred faith (1 Cor. 12:9), some suggest that it is faith which “is the gift of God.” Certainly faith is a received quality. It is among blessings which answer to Paul’s rhetorical question, “what has thou that thou didst not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7) But the elements of character which please God, among which is faith, as well as the temporal possessions and necessities held by Jesus’ disciples, are generally attained through conscious effort. They are ‘received’ through our cooperation amidst God’s overruling providences.

Faith, wherever present, exists in the mind, and it is generated by the holy spirit’s influence of light and peace. Faith, in common with every other Christian virtue, exists in the heart that has responded to spiritual influences. Paul wrote that “all [men] have not faith.” (2 Thes. 3:2) That does not suggest, however, that those who have faith received it as “the gift of God” as though an answer to our question. It is one’s own mind and being that believes. It is not possible for God to believe for man, and convey that belief as a gift. The apostle wrote, rather, that “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. “-Rom. 10:17

Paul understood that faith is built and constructed; it grows and enlarges. He encouraged believers to increase in faith: “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth.” (2 Thes. 1:3) ‘Soundness of faith’ comes through hearing, thinking, learning and trusting, and sometimes by victory following rebuke.-Titus 1:13

Salvation through Faith

Salvation is not of ourselves (as seen foregoing). We are saved by grace. The salvation comes through faith in God’s revealed purpose in His Son who died for all. Nothing aside from faith would enable our receiving of the gift of salvation. We of the human family were justly condemned to death for sin and disobedience. Those who break God’s righteous law have no standing before Him in their own righteousness. Inasmuch as “there is none righteous, no, not one,” all need God’s grace and favor.

None in the human family has a vantage point or place of approach from which to require or demand God’s blessing. God Himself needed to make the first move in the rescue of man. And He did. After the first human pair entered the broad road leading into death, the LORD God made a promise intimating the eventual recovery of mankind from Satan’s influence. And God is specially pleased with those who believe, even though few respond to His promises. Those who do respond to God’s revealed will are greatly blessed. One of those was Noah. The word ‘grace’ is first used in Scripture in regard to him. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” (Gen. 6:8) The faith of Noah in God’s promises saved him and his family from death in the flood.

But now that Jesus has laid down his human life in sacrifice as an atonement for sin, those who follow on in faith in the steps of their heaven-sent Redeemer receive eternal-life salvation. Such faith makes all things new: those far off are brought nigh, they pass from death to life, from disobedience to sonship, from evil conduct to good works, from fleshly desires to spiritual fellowship, from children of wrath to sitting in the heavenlies. Those improved relationships are described by the Apostle Paul:

‘And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince ofthe power of the air, ofthe spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches in His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh,…were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers in the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. “-Eph. 2:1-13 NASB

The Way of Salvation

Sin, death, and accompanying sorrows have through the ages, as today, prompted many to inquire into God’s saving grace. Our recognition of God’s blessing leads to confession of sins and shortcomings, and true heart belief. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. ” (Acts 16:31) That answer of Paul to the fearful prison keeper is still true. None need fear to put trust in Jesus. He purchased all mankind with His own precious blood. He has received all power in heaven and in earth. Salvation is free to all who trust in Him and continue following on in faith. All devoted believers have authority to speak on behalf of Christ. We say in Christ’s stead to the sincere and honest hearted, “be ye reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:20) Our commission is to direct the sin-weary and heavy-laden to the Savior of all men!

Jesus clearly taught that salvation comes through faith. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life.” (John 5:24 NASB) Faith is taking God at His word, as Paul wrote: “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. “-Rom. 10:17 NASB

This is truth beyond doubting! We are saved by grace, through faith, through believing the Word of truth. The gospel promises salvation, full and free. God’s loving mercy is the “good news” message to the sin-sick and weary-salvation offered freely to all, without money and without price.-Isa. 55:1-3

A living and active love for God expands with one’s enlarging appreciation of His unmerited favor in the great salvation. “We love Him, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) And when we come to love God and our Lord Jesus, we come to love those who are of the same mind. We grow in loving sympathy for our brethren in their fight of faith. And we come to love all mankind, so loved by God as to send His only begotten Son to suffer cruel death, the price of human redemption.

Gifts from God

Jesus was sent to “save his people from their sins. ” (Mat. 1:21) He came to save from death, which is caused by sin. The saved thus have eternal life. “And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life and this life is in his Son. He that hath [belief in] the Son hath life; and he that hath not [belief in] the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:11,12) By God’s grace, salvation life is free as a gift through faith.

Again and again Gods gift was affirmed. By Jesus to Nicodemus: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3 16

Again by Jesus to the woman: “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” – John 4:14

By Paul to the Corinthians: “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable [indescribable NASB] gift.” – 2 Cor 9:15

Again by Paul to the Romans: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Rom.6.23

“The Grace of God”

What a nice expression – “the grace of God.” It prompts pleasant and peaceful thoughts about our Father, the great Creator But Paul’s use of “the grace of God” phrase in Titus 2:11 appears to be with a specific purpose There the expression refers to the Savior of mankind. That four word phrase “the grace of God is a synonym for Jesus: “For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men.” (RSV) How beautiful! The sequence of phrases puts in good perspective the reality of His manifestation. He is the gift of God’s grace by which all men may be saved. How wonderful to know it! “The grace of God has appeared!”

Paul wrote a similarly-identifying phrase. Its words are specific too – “the goodness and loving kindness of God.” The context shows that those words refer to Jesus. “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared [“God our Savior” – a reference to the Father, of which more to be said later], he [God] saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the holy spirit which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savio.” (Titus 3:4-6 RSV) “The goodness and loving kindness of God” another synonym for Jesus, a companion phrase to that in Titus 2:11 – “the grace of God.”

The Apostle in Hebrews 2:9 attributes salvation from death to God’s grace: “…we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death… that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” The thought is that Jesus experienced death so that every man who dies need not stay dead for ever. Indeed what grace…from “the God of all grace.” -1 Pet. 5:10

Paul also shows that “the grace of that one man Jesus Christ” in conjunction with or united with “the grace of God” provided the free gift. This in Rom. 5:15,16 (RSV): “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification.” The twin thoughts which attach to the words “the free gift” relate as cause and effect. The first thought is of Jesus – given in death as man’s ransom. The second thought is the benefit of that ransom conferred upon all who really believe on Jesus – justification with its accompanying salvation.

“God Our Savior”

It is generally acknowledged by commentators that the words “God our Savior” noted above in “the kindness of God our Savior” refer to God himself, not to His Son Jesus. The same three-word phrase was spoken in prayer by Mary of the almighty God and heavenly Father (Luke 1:46-48), and written by Jude in verse 25 of his epistle, and three times by Paul (Titus 2:10, 3:4, 1 Tim: 1:1, 2:3). Aware that God is the architect and all-wise planner of salvation and its process, they all acknowledge the Father as “God our Savior.” He is the one God Who has been from everlasting and Who shall be unto everlasting, and Who enlisted the faithful service of His beloved Son.

Grace for Grace

Jesus’ disciples perceived that He who walked among them was indeed “full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) He always reflected God’s favor. Fellowship with His Father was never interrupted. Being now perfected in the heavenlies, completed by the things which he suffered, having demonstrated faultless obedience despite temptation and accusations of blasphemy, Jesus sends forth of His fulness as His blessing upon believers.

The Apostle John affirmed himself as one of those so greatly blessed.

“For of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” – John 1:16,17, NASB

“Grace for grace”(KJV)…just what does that mean? Surely not that the grace of the old covenant is replaced by that of the new administration. Grace interchanging with grace is meant; grace replaced by fuller grace; greater depths to our spiritual relationship and fellowship; greater measures of spiritual understanding, sustenance and strength; continual impressions of received favor, new grace coming upon and superseding that formerly received. This becomes true in our individual experience. Grace is enjoyed in proportion to our growth in appreciation for God’s favor channeled through our Redeemer. And that all comes because of and out of His fulness.

“For out of His fulness (abundance) we all received – all had a share and we were all supplied with – one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped! upon gift. For while the Law was given through Moses, grace – unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual bless- ing – and truth came through Jesus Christ. ” – John 1:16,17, Amplified Version

God’s Riches

It is God’s richness in grace which provided the plan for deliverance from disobedience, sin and death. Paul gave that truth prominent place in Ephesians for our close consideration.

‘He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His [God’s] grace. ” – Eph. 1:5-7 NASB

Without God’s grace, death would mean extinction for all members of the condemned intelligent creation. God has freely wrought His grace to our forgiveness and to our inheritance of eternal life. It was all in view from early time. God predestined sonship for all repentant trespassers who will avail themselves of His gracious provision of salvation.

Paul emphasized again to the Ephesians God’s promised riches of grace to the redeemed. “In order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches ofHis grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” – Eph. 2:7 NASB

Paul also used the delightful phrase, “the grace of God” early in Colossians. And again it seems to be another direct reference to Jesus. “You previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel, which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth.” – Col. 1:5,6 NASB

There was a time with each of us, as with the Colossians, when we did not know “the grace of God in truth.” They, perhaps as we, may have only heard of Jesus, knowing little about Him, His origin, His purpose, and the hope of the life that centers in Him. But a time came when we did know about God’s great grace. Such was the happy experience of those Colossians. Paul took their minds back to the time – when they heard, knew, and believed as truth the words about “the grace of God.” “In the word of truth, the gospel” … “since the day ye heard, and knew the grace of God in truth.” He mixed, merged and repeated words that pertain to salvation…truth, gospel, the grace of God, hearing. Again Paul intentionally put in focus the important aspects of salvation which are supplied through God’s riches by Christ Jesus our Lord, the living example of divine grace.

Quotations from King James Version except as indicated
RSV – Revised Standard Version
NASB-New American Standard Bible

http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/fbf/grace.html

 

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Christian Grace vs Mormon Grace

A Comparison of the Gospel of Grace

 

The Mormon Gospel

Grace consists of God’s gift to His children wherein He gave His Only Begotten Son that whosoever would believe in Him and comply with His laws and ordinances would have everlasting life. (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pp. 353-354).


Grace is granted to men proportionately as they conform to the standards of personal righteousness that are part of the gospel plan. (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 339).

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind, and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you (Moroni 10:32, Book of Mormon)

As with all other doctrines of salvation, justification is available because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, but it becomes operative in the life of an individual only on conditions of personal righteousness (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 408).

Certain saved-by-grace-alone fanatics flatter their followers into believing they can be saved through no act other than confessing Christ with their lips (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 287).

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The Christian Gospel

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. (Romans 11:6)

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound (Romans 5:20). Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace (Romans 4:16).

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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10).

 

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24). Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. (Titus 3:5)

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)

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The truth of the gospel is that God saves men freely and by His grace alone. Adding to God’s grace violates God’s intention and places one under the curse of God (Galatians 1:8-10, 5:2-4). Despite how often Mormons speak of the gospel, they have been given a false gospel that cannot save.

 

http://vintage.aomin.org/LDSGrace.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Friend:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whosoever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pray — you talk to God.

Read your Bible — God talks to you.

Witness — you talk for God.

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

 

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

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Once again, there are various positions on this issue within the CHOCD, but this is probably their most grievous error. Because it goes way beyond just rejecting the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, as recorded in I Corinthians chapters 12-14. It also includes the rejection of His “enduement of power.” Jesus said in Acts 1:4-8 that He would “baptize them in the Holy Spirit” and they would “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” And we see the fulfillment of this promise on the day of Pentecost. Peter said in Acts 2:39, that the promise of receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit was for every believer, for “as many as the Lord our God shall call!” In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus had also promised that the miraculous would follow those that believed, in Chapter 16, verse 17. Jesus promised in John 14:16, that the Holy Spirit “would be with us FOREVER!” Paul said in Romans 11:29 that, “The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.”

The only verse that they can even attempt to take out of context to uphold their dispensational outlook is I Corinthians 13:10, that states at some point in time (“when that which is perfect comes”) the miraculous will be done away with. They believe “that which is perfect” was the canonization of the Scriptures. But when you read this statement in context, you see that it couldn’t be what or when they say it is. First of all, the Apostle Paul virtually tells us when it would happen, in verse 12, by telling us what would transpire at the arrival of “that which is perfect.” He says, “For NOW we see in a mirror dimly, but THEN we will see face to face; NOW I know in part, but THEN I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known”.

To prove that the miraculous didn’t cease at the canonization of the Scriptures, all you have to do is plug their theory into verse 12, every time Paul says the word THEN. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but THEN, at the canonization of scripture (300 AD), we will see face to face; now I know in part, but THEN, at the canonization of scripture, I shall know fully as I also have been fully known.” The term “face to face” was used in Paul’s day (as it is in our day) as a very literal term. At the canonization of scripture, who or what did Paul see “face to face?” At the canonization of scripture, how did the Apostle Paul grow in knowledge? He had been in Heaven for over 200 years! The fact of the matter is that when Paul referred to “that which is perfect” he was simply referring to the second coming of Christ, or when we would go home to glory, whichever came first. Will you gain knowledge when you get to heaven? Absolutely! Will you see anyone (Jesus, for example) “face to face?” Undoubtedly! So this verse is obviously a very precarious place to hang one’s hat in an attempt to prove that the miraculous workings of God, through the power of His Holy Spirit, have ceased!

But some (not all) of the members of the CHOCD go even further in their defiance of the Holy Spirit, and say that he is not even a person of the Trinity. The Bible is very clear in attributing personhood to the Holy Spirit by stating that the Holy Spirit has a will (I Corinthians 12:11); that He can be grieved (Eph 4:30); that He would be our Teacher (John 14:26) and more. Many of the CHOCDs even come dangerously close to committing blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31) by saying that any manifestation of the miraculous in this day and age are all 100% demonic! Take it from me, I am living proof that God still performs miracles today. Because in 1979, while a member of the CHOCD… I committed suicide. My family was falling apart, and thanks to the erroneous teachings of the CHOCD, all I had to fall back on was a “religion,” not a living, personal relationship with the living Lord of the Universe. So faced with a future of hopelessness and despair, I took an overdose (130+) of sleeping pills, and laid down to die. But because of the mercy and grace of our loving Creator, a minister friend of mine from the Christian Church came by (after the pills had been in my system for nearly six hours!) As he struggled to help me get dressed to go to the hospital (with the rescue squad on its way), I lapsed into a coma. I went stiff as a board and my eyes rolled back in my head and I keeled over. But on the way to the hospital, as my friend prayed for me, I came to! I had no adverse side effects, other than being thirsty and feeling like I hadn’t slept in days. The doctors didn’t have a clue. My minister friend didn’t even know what to think either. My own earthly Father went to the grave suspecting that the whole thing was an effort to get attention. Hey, you don’t take over 100 sleeping pills to get anyone’s attention but a mortician!

So now maybe you can see why I feel so strongly about reaching the poor souls that have fallen prey to the dead theology of the CHOCD. Legalism robs a believer of their Joy! And since the Joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10), then legalism is a parasite that will sap you of your ability to stand when the storms of life come your way. If the CHOCD wants to be a TRUE representation of the New Testament Church, then they must embrace that which the original church embraced. I am grateful for the basic biblical foundation that I received while in the CHOCD, but even more grateful that Jesus has shown me a “more excellent way!”

http://www.chocd.org/holyspirit.html

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Some in the “Church of Christ” believe they are the only Christians. As one who was previously trained to preach for the Church of Christ, I think that this teaching is harmful. My aim in this video and in my paper is to help members of the Church of Christ and others understand better how we can deal with differences and cultivate a more genuine walk with God. Please visit my website at http://www.geocities.com/thesufficiencyoffaith to download my paper in which I thoroughly discuss these issues. My paper attempts to examine the root of the issue, and in doing so it also addresses many other questions, such as how God deals with people who we might think have not been able to hear the gospel and the relationship between faith and works. Although it was written primarily with the Church of Christ doctrines in mind, the principles God showed me involve questions that have been asked by people all over the world for ages.

You WILL need to visit the site to make the answers pop up. But all CoC members should take this test.

Legalism Questionnaire http://ex-churchofchrist.com/legalismCoC.htm

LEE-gull-izm: noun, 1) something pertaining to obeying law, 2) becoming overly concerned with legal details and losing the intent of the law, 3) straining gnats out of one’s coffee and swallowing huge hump-backed animals.

Hold your cursor over the answer you choose:

1. The “new covenant” is a phrase in the New Testament that is used to refer to
a. the new regulations in the New Testament about the work, worship and organization of the local congregation.
b. baptism and the plan of salvation
c. a new relationship with God based on forgiveness

2. The “gospel of Christ” is a phrase in the New Testament that is used to refer to
a. the new regulations in the New Testament about the work, worship and organization of the local congregation.
b. baptism and the plan of salvation
c. a new relationship with God based on forgiveness

3. The “law of liberty” and the “law of Christ” are phrases in the New Testament that are used to refer to
a. the new regulations in the New Testament about the work, worship and organization of the local congregation.
b. baptism and the plan of salvation
c. a new relationship with God based on forgiveness

4. James (in chapter 2) teaches that faith without works is dead. What kind of works is James talking about?
a. The work, worship and organization of the local congregation
b. All works commanded by God
c. mercy towards poor people

5. The story of Uzzah being struck dead for touching the ark of the covenant teaches
a. unauthorized worship is displeasing to God
b. God keeps his promises
c. God appreciates spontaneous worship

6. The story of Nadab and Abihu being struck dead for bringing strange fire before the Lord teaches
a. unauthorized worship is displeasing to God
b. God proved His acceptance of the sacrifice (Nadab and Abihu did not wait for God’s acceptance)
c. God is displeased by substituting one’s own works for God’s works.

7. Concerning going to church
a. There are many scriptures that teach attending church is one of the most important acts of worship and obedience in a Christian’s life.
b. There are many scriptures that teach one must attend church every Sunday.
c. There are two scriptures that tell us to assemble with other Christians with the purpose of encouraging one another.

8. Jesus viewed God the Father as
a. Someone who threw a big party with music and dancing
b. Someone who was bad-tempered and hard to get to know
c. Someone who only talked to church hierarchy

9. Peter viewed baptism as
a. for the remission of sins
b. to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit
c. Both “a” and “b”

10. Concerning instrumental music
a. God accepted instrumental music in the Old Testament
b. David encouraged instrumental music in some of the same Psalms that are referred to in the New Testament
c. There is instrumental music in heaven
d. Jesus compared the church to a banquet with music and dancing
e. there is no condemnation of instrumental music in the New Testament
f. There is no condemnation of spontaneous unauthorized worship anywhere in the Bible
g. The apostle Paul unreservedly encouraged Christians to sing the Psalms
h. all of the above
i. There is no approval of instrumental music by God in the Bible
j. There is no approval of instrumental music in worship in the New Testament

Your Score:
9 to 10 incorrect answers: you probably found this questionnaire irritating.

9 to10 correct answers: you feel (would have felt) very uncomfortable in the strict Churches of Christ, and you got a big kick out of this questionnaire. If you attended hardline Churches of Christ in the past, you may have needed quite a bit of alka-seltzer to digest those mandatory camels.

Any scores in between and you may not feel comfortable anywhere.

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These questions where asked in a forum I visit. WHAT ABOUT SUICIDE? Can it be forgiven? Is it not written that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, is the only unpardonable sin? The questionnaire has yet to answer the questions himself, but his questions prompted this response and I would like to share it so that other may share it freely if they so wish. The questionaire advocates salvation by works.
______________________________

It always saddens me to see those that advocate “self salvation” to bring up suicide. It is always served with a generous portion of apathy and contempt for those who do commit suicide, and even those who are depressed to the point of considering it. There will always be someone that defines suicide as murder and try to state that murderers cannot be forgiven and end up in God’s heaven. The reasoning goes if you can save yourself you can likewise condemn your self. But the bible says that “all” are condemned already. From that we must be rescued.

But what does the bible say about murderers? It says they shall not have a place in God’s heaven. But when the Spirit of the new law of Christ says that we are ALL murders if we get angry at our brothers for no reason, it kind of levels the playing field huh? Like it or not we are all murderers! Have you not heard that if you break one of Gods laws you have broken them all?

Do you think King David will be forgiven his adultery and murder? How can a murderer be a “man after gods own heart”? I submit to you YES and that it is because David realized that “in him” was no good thing and long before he had anyone physically murdered, he had said in his heart “RACCA” ( not deserving of forgiveness) in anger against his brothers and had already committed murder. Just like Abraham, David was justified in Gods site by faith and blessed is the man to whom God will not impute sin.

The “self salvation” folks show their spiritual maturity to be null and void when they take the line of reasoning that people who commit suicide cannot be saved. The see no value at all in the prefacing suffering. They would even ridicule ‘Christian suffering” and sport a bumper sticker that says “to blessed to be depressed”. They would look upon those that are not like wise “to blessed to be depressed” as beneath them and possibly not even real Christians. But the question is “what does the bible say about depression?”.

Some folks need to do a word study on suffer & suffering! Christ said we must share in his sufferings. Jesus is called the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 42:1-4. Isa 53:3 says of Jesus “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Jesus said we like him shall suffer for his names sake. Paul shared in Christ sufferings. He often said he wished to be absent from the body and to die was gain and preferred. He only wished to hang around for the sake of those whom he had been given charge over (us gentiles and the churches he had planted).

Christ suffered and said my God my God why has though forsaken me? Remove this cup from me if possible. What was that cup? It was the cup of suffering! It is safe to say that in Jesus humanity he was depressed and not jumping for joy. But he went to that cross anyway because of the joy that would come from it afterwards. It was what he was sent to do!!! Do you partake of the cross and the cup of suffering?

Elijah spent three days under the juniper tree thinking about killing himself. Only a divinely sent visit from an angel with a good meal (from heaven) got him physically strong enough to get out from under that Juniper tree and want to live again. He did finally go and face the threat of murder but lets not forget that without divine intervention Elijah would have been finished under that juniper tree. And lets not forget Job who is counted among the numerous bible figures to say “it would have been better for me to not have been born !!!”

Imagine this !!!. You cannot grow if you only have one “mountain top” experience after another. You only grow in dependence on God and spiritual maturity in the valleys of despair and helplessness. We are clay and He is the potter. How quickly we forget that if clay had feelings, it would hurt the clay to be molded and formed into something. How quickly we become unsympathetic towards the clay.

Suffering will make us or break us. Wounds are ways to reveal us! The real us!!! Suffering, and the way we respond to it, will show us where we are at in our walk with God. Can a wild horse be tamed unless it is first broken? Can a servant of God make a good servant unless he is first broken and made into something else?

I realize that some do not have the temperament disposition to get depressed often. But even those less prone to depression will have valley experiences too. Life is not all fun and games ya know. Life is painful. More so to some than others. To live is Christ to die is gain. I’m so tired and so weary but I must go on. Till the Lord come and takes, takes me away. There will be no sadness , no sorrow, no trouble I see. There will be peace in the valley for me ! someday !!!

I believe that some that commit suicide are deranged and delusional and are not really aware of what they are doing. But I believe that most that commit suicide are just tired of living and hopeless. Kind of like when an 80 yr old man loses his companion and he just turns his will to live off and dies shortly afterwards. Is that suicide also???

But I hate to be the one to tell some of you, but suicide can be the biggest act of faith ever. I don’t buy into the idea that a Christian will commit suicide just because he is sick of living this life. If a Christian commits suicide, yes he is tired of living this life but he does not expect to just end it and life is over, he expects to fall into the loving arms of his savior and to be face to face immediately.

It is never Gods will for anyone to commit suicide. Yes Jesus told Judas to go do what he had to do but it was Judas’s will to die. Jesus did not hang him there. I don’t think Judas was in his right mind. After all he betrayed the one that loved him. That would be called “grieved to death” if you ask me.

It is really disparaging to interact with people who would have shunned Jesus in his moments of trail in the Garden of Gethsemane. People like to play with words and try to say killing is murder. Consider this, Jesus knew he was to be taken and crucified, he said so before Judas betrayed him. Since Jesus knew he was to be crucified, did he commit suicide or self murder because he did not flee but went willingly to the cross?

Can you really know how God feels unless you too have been scorned and utterly rejected by the ones you love? Ask Hosea!! Would it destroy your faith to know that God too gets depressed and is very empathetic to those who are depressed and broken ?

Blessed are the meek and the broken hearted. For theirs is the kingdom of God!!!

This article is created and copyrighted by Damon Whitsell 2008. All free duplicating is allowed provided this Commons copyright licensing requirments is kept intact and attached.

Suicide and Salvation by Damon Whitsell is licensed (FOUR YOUR FREE USE) under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Australia License.Based on a work at how2becomeachristian.info.

This comment was a response to the posting of this article in a MSN discussion forum. It is added to encourage you to share this article with anyone whom you may know that is struggling with the suicide of a loved one. To forward this to someone, click on the BLOG article title link to go to the article webpage and click the “SHARE” button at the bottom right of the page.

Dear Damon, In the last 6 weeks I have heard of 3 suicides in our area……. I cannot tell you how this has blessed me. One of these persons have greatly broken up a co-worker since he is the Uncle of the one who killed himself. I was beside myself. This has really been helpful to me. I have wept and wept and wept over these lives. Two I believed with all my heart, were truly born again. One would travel extensively to third world countries and contracted some sort of mind disease. (I forget the name of it.) I had a cousin years ago (not in the last 6 weeks) but several years ago (5 to be exact) that actually gave all he had to the Lord. I often wondered about him. I pray that God deeply touches your heart as much as this post has touched mine. It brought me peace. Thank you so much. Anonymous ( The writer has not given me permission to divulge their name)

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The aberrant pseudo-Christian cults are united against grace and faith alone for justification/salvation.

Spend some time in a Christian debate or discussion community for awhile and you will learn a few things. First and foremost is that there are so many different ways that people believe and teach about certain biblical topics. For those who are NOT well studied and versed on what is and what is not orthodox Christianity can get confused easily. There are only two groups of Christians. Those who adhere to orthodox teachings and those that hold heterodox or aberrant heretical teachings. The difference is that between true Christianity and Pseudo-Christian cults.

While the vast and flagrant differences of the cults on various doctrines and teachings is the first and most obvious thing that a participant or a lurker in those type forums will learn, the most prominent theme and common denominator among them is their united assault against salvation by grace alone, through faith alone. While most cults claim to be the only true church and the only ecclesiastic outlet of salvation, all cults stand united in denying that salvation is by grace apart from works.

Most cults will add baptism as a work we must do to be saved. Some will add the doctrine of Christian sinless perfection saying one must become sinless to be saved. Some will add a certain Sabbath day observance, restrict the use of musical instruments in church or require certain rules for dress and entertainment. But they all pervert and unite against the truth of justification/salvation by faith alone in Jesus atoning life death and resurrection.

Other marks of a cult.

Pseudo-Christian cults Have many other doctrinal distinctives that differentiate them from mainstream Christianity. While different Cult apologetics groups have given different definitions as to what doctrines are essential and non essential to orthodox biblical Christianity, the variances are minor. All list generally contain the following.

1. The necessary affirmation of the virgin birth of Jesus.
2. The necessary affirmation of Jesus literal death burial and resurrection.

Both of these denote Jesus’s divinity and the Triune nature of God.

3. The necessary affirmation of salvation/justification by grace through atonement.

All apologetics groups affirm these three as essentials. Below these “prime” essentials is a level of sub-prime essentials which would include doctrines on the nature of God, the nature of man, the nature of sin and the biblical precepts of heaven and hell and divine judgment, etc. etc.

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

The glue and the sticking point that holds the cults apart from the real church is legalism. Legalism is mans efforts to appease God and justify himself through any kind of self effort. By far what the cults have most in common is legalism. In many cases that may be the only thing they have in common. Yet as you will learn they will all come together to say that salvation is not a gracious gift of God but must in some way be earned.

The question is sometimes asked in these rooms why don’t we just give the room up to so and so or so and so group? Have you ever entertained the idea of what that would result in? If all the “faith aloners” pulled out what would happen?

The only mutual point that ALL Pseudo-Christian cults share is their alliance against grace and support of human effort to obtain salvation. Once the debate over Salvation by Grace or by works was removed IT WOULD GET VERY INTERESTING IN THESE ROOMS. Don’t you think?

We would get to see people argue over who is the most perfect and deserving to get to heaven, which baptism by which church saves, and of course lets not forget which church is the one and only true church.
You will never see Cults come together to argue which cult is correct and which are not, but you will find that they will rally together and to refuse salvation by grace.

So lets imagine that all the “faith aloners” left and it was just various groups that are united against grace but very much at odds with each other over other matters. What would happen and which cult would be preferred over the others if we all left or just conceded and said OK salvation is not by grace?


CULT UNITY? by Damon Whitsell is licensed (FOR YOUR FREE USE) under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at http://www.how2becomeachristian.info/. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at ABOUT CCL http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Spectrumofrights_Comic1.

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