"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" Be An Example To The Believers (4:12) INTRODUCTION 1. Instructing Timothy as to his obligations, Paul charges him to "be an example to the believers..." - 1Ti 4:12 2. The word "example"... a. Comes from the Greek word "tupos" b. Used here in the sense of being a pattern, an example, for others to follow [We shall examine what sort of example Paul has in mind, but let's first stress that Timothy is not the only person who ought to be an example...] I. THOSE WHO OUGHT TO BE EXAMPLES A. MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL... 1. Such as Timothy - 1Ti 4:12 2. Such as Titus - Tit 2:7-8 -- Preachers and evangelists should certainly set a good example for others B. SHEPHERDS OF THE FLOCK... 1. As Peter charged the elders - 1Pe 5:1-3 2. As the Hebrew writer encouraged his readers to follow their faith - He 13:7 -- Elders (i.e., bishops and pastors) should provide an example worth following C. FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS... 1. Certainly true of mature Christians - Php 3:15-17 2. Can also be true of new Christians (e.g., the new church at Thessalonica) - 1Th 1:6-8 3. And true of younger Christians (e.g., Timothy) - cf. 1Ti 4:12a -- All Christians, young and old, should strive to be examples to one another! [Now let's consider...] II. THE KIND OF EXAMPLES WE SHOULD BE A. AN EXAMPLE IN "WORD"... 1. Many understand Paul to refer to speech, personal conversation (cf. Barnes) a. Certainly Christians are to be careful in their speech - cf. Ep 4:29,31; 5:4,12 b. Their speech should be with "grace" (remember Jesus?) - Co 4:6; cf. Lk 4:22 2. Others think Paul was referring to doctrine, what one taught (cf. Clarke) a. That one teach nothing but the truth, that which accords to God's Word b. Timothy was to be careful regarding doctrine - cf. 1Ti 4:6, 13,16 -- Whether in private conversation or public teaching, Christians should set an example of speaking the truth with grace B. AN EXAMPLE IN "CONDUCT"... 1. The KJV uses the word "conversation"; the ASV has "manner of life" a. The Grk. is anastrophe - "manner of life, conduct, behavior, deportment" - Thayer b. "The word 'conversation' we now apply almost exclusively to oral discourse, or to talking. But it was not formerly confined to that and is never so used in the Scriptures. It means conduct in general - including, of course, our manner of speaking, but not limited to that - and should be so understood in every place where it occurs in the Bible." - Barnes 2. Regarding our conduct or manner of life, it should: a. Demonstrate meekness and wisdom - Jm 3:13 b. Display holiness, reverence, purpose - 1Pe 1:15-19 -- Not only is our conduct to be an example to the believers, but honorable among unbelievers - cf. 1Pe 2:11-12 C. AN EXAMPLE IN "LOVE"... 1. The KJV uses the word "charity"; most other translations have "love" a. The Grk. is agape - "brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence" - Thayer b. A popular definition is "active good will" 2. The love we are to display is to be manifested toward: a. God and our brethren - Mt 22:37; 1Jn 4:11 b. Our fellow man including our enemies - Mt 22:39; 5:44 -- In a world where love is often lacking, Christians should exemplify the virtue D. AN EXAMPLE IN "SPIRIT"... 1. Most translations omit the phrase "in spirit"; not found in the oldest manuscripts 2. The Grk. is pneuma - as used here, it refers to zeal, disposition or attitude 3. That Christians should be fervent in spirit is clearly taught elsewhere: a. In reference to good works - Tit 2:14 b. In reference to our service to the Lord - Ro 12:11; Re 2:4 c. In reference to our love for one another - 1Pe 1:22; 4:8 -- Christians should provide an example of enthusiasm in their service, not lethargy! E. AN EXAMPLE IN "FAITH"... 1. Nearly all translations read "faith"; the ISV reads "faithfulness" a. The Grk. is pistis - "assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity" - Strong b. It can refer to either the belief one has (as in God), or to the fidelity and faithfulness of one's character 2. Both should be true of the Christian: a. Possessing a strong belief or faith in God and Christ - He 11:6 b. Displaying the character of faithfulness and dependability - Re 2:10 -- "At all times, and in all trials show to believers by your example, how they ought to maintain unshaken confidence in God." - Barnes F. AN EXAMPLE IN "PURITY"... 1. Virtually all translations use the word "purity" a. The Grk. is hagneia - "purity, sinlessness of life" - Thayer b. In the NT, used only here and in 1Ti 5:2 2. Moral or sexual purity, both in thought and act, seems to be the idea a. "There should be nothing in your contact with the other sex that would give rise to scandal." - Barnes b. "Chastity of body and mind; a direction peculiarly necessary for a young minister, who has more temptations to break its rules than perhaps any other person." - Clarke -- As Paul would instruct Timothy later, all Christians should "flee youthful lusts" and "pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace..." - cf. 2Ti 2:22 CONCLUSION 1. Are we calling on the Lord out of a pure heart...? - cf. 2Ti 2:22 a. Calling upon Him for our salvation? b. Calling upon Him for our sanctification? 2. Then let our example be one that illustrates the power of the gospel to impact... a. Our words b. Our conduct c. Our love d. Our spirit e. Our faith f. Our purity What kind of church (people) would we be if everyone followed our own example in these things? May this question motivate us to examine our lives and correct any deficiencies that we may find...
In Defense of...God's Plan of Salvation
|by||Bert Thompson, Ph.D.|
“And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7).
Of all the living beings that dwell on planet Earth, one solitary creature was made “in the image of God.” On day six of His creative activity, God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.... And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26,27).
Mankind was not created in the physical image of God, of course, because God, as a Spirit Being, has no physical image (John 4:24; Luke 24:39; Matthew 16:17). Rather, mankind was fashioned in the spiritual, rational, emotional, and volitional image of God (Ephesians 4:24; John 5:39-40; 7:17; Joshua 24:15; Isaiah 7:15). Humans were superior to all other creatures. No other living being was given the faculties, the capacities, the capabilities, the potential, or the dignity that God instilled in each man and woman. Indeed, humankind is the peak, the pinnacle, and the apex, of God’s creation.
In its lofty position as the zenith of God’s creative genius, mankind was endowed with certain responsibilities. Men and women were to be the stewards of the entire Earth (Genesis 1:28). They were to glorify God in their daily existence (Isaiah 43:7). And, they were to consider it their “whole duty” to serve the Creator faithfully throughout their brief sojourn on the Earth (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
MAN’S PREDICAMENT: DISOBEDIENCE AND DEATH
Unfortunately, the first man and woman used their volitional powers—and the free moral agency based on those powers—to rebel against their Maker. Finite man made some horribly evil choices, and so entered the spiritual state biblically designated as “sin.” The Old Testament not only presents in vivid fashion the entrance of sin into the world through Adam and Eve (Genesis 3), but also alludes to the ubiquity of sin within the human race when it says: “there is no man that sinneth not” (1 Kings 8:46). Throughout its thirty-nine books, the Old Covenant discusses time and again sin’s presence amidst humanity, and its destructive consequences. The great prophet Isaiah reminded God’s people: “Behold, Jehovah’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, so that he will not hear” (59:1-2).
The New Testament is no less clear in its assessment. The apostle John wrote: “Every one that doeth sin doeth also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Thus, sin is defined as the act of transgressing God’s law. In fact, Paul observed that “where there is no law, neither is there transgression” (Romans 4:15). Had there been no law, there would have been no sin. But God had instituted divine law. And mankind freely chose to transgress that law. Paul reaffirmed the Old Testament concept of the universality of sin (1 Kings 8:46) when he stated that “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
As a result, mankind’s predicament became serious indeed. Ezekiel lamented: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (18:20a). Once again, the New Testament writers reaffirmed such a concept. Paul wrote: “Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned” (Romans 5:12). He then added that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Years later, James would write: “But each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is full-grown, bringeth forth death” (1:14-15).
As a result of mankind’s sin, God placed the curse of death on the human race. While all men and women must die physically as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin, each person dies spiritually for his or her own sins. Each person is responsible for himself, spiritually speaking. The theological position which states that we inherit the guilt of Adam’s sin is false. We do not inherit the guilt ; we inherit the consequences. And there is a great difference between the two. Consider, as an illustration of this point, the family in which a drunken father arrives home late one evening, and in an alcoholic stupor severely beats his wife and children. His spouse and offspring suffer the consequences of his drunkenness, to be sure. But it would be absurd to suggest that they are guilty of it! The same concept applies in the spiritual realm. People die physically because of Adam’s sin, but they die spiritually because of their own personal transgression of God’s law. In Ezekiel 18:20, quoted earlier, the prophet went on to say: “the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.”
THE REALITY OF SIN
The reality of sin is all around us, is it not? Consider the ways in which mankind has been affected by sin.
Physically—Disease and death were introduced into this world as a direct consequence of man’s sin (Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12).
Geophysically—Many features of the Earth’s surface that allow for such tragedies as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, violent thunderstorms, etc. can be traced directly to the Great Flood of Noah’s day (which came as the result of man’s sin, Genesis 6:5ff.).
Culturally—The numerous communication problems that man experiences, due to the multiplicity of human languages, are traceable to ambitious rebellion on the part of our ancestors (Genesis 11:1-9).
Psychologically—Man generally is without the peace of mind for which his heart longs (look at the number of psychiatrists in the Yellow Pages of any telephone book!). Isaiah opined: “They have made them crooked paths; whosoever goeth therein doth not know peace” (59:8; cf. 57:21).
Spiritually—By sinning, man created a chasm between himself and God (Isaiah 59:2). Unless remedied, this condition will result in man’s being unable to escape the “judgment of hell” (Matthew 23:33), and in his being separated from God throughout all eternity (Revelation 21:8; 22:18-19).
The key phrase in the discussion above is that man’s sin will result in an eternal separation from God unless remedied. The question then becomes: Has God provided such a remedy? Thankfully, the answer is: Yes, He has.
GOD’S REMEDY FOR SIN
Regardless of how desperate, or how pitiful, man’s condition has become, one thing is for certain: God had no obligation to provide a means of salvation for the ungrateful creature who so haughtily turned away from Him, His law, and His beneficence. The Scriptures make this apparent when they discuss the fact that angels sinned (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6), and yet “not to angels doth he give help, but he giveth help to the seed of Abraham” (Hebrews 2:16). The rebellious creatures that once inhabited the heavenly portals were not provided a redemptive plan. But man was! Little wonder the psalmist inquired: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4, emp. added).
Why would God go to such great lengths for mankind, when His mercy was not even extended to the angels that once surrounded His throne? Whatever answers may be proffered, there can be little doubt that the Creator’s efforts on behalf of sinful man are the direct result of pure love. As a loving God (1 John 4:8), He acted out of a genuine concern, not for His own desires, but instead for those of His creation. And let us be forthright in acknowledging that Jehovah’s love for mankind was completely undeserved. The Scriptures make it clear that God decided to offer salvation—our “way home”—even though we were ungodly, sinners, and enemies (note the specific use of those terms in Romans 5:6-10). The apostle John rejoiced in the fact that: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us” (1 John 4:10).
God’s love is universal, and thus not discriminatory in any fashion (John 3:16). He would have all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4)—if they would be (John 5:40)—for He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). And, Deity’s love is unquenchable. Read Romans 8:35-39 and be thrilled! Only man’s wanton rejection of God’s love can put him beyond the practical appropriation of heaven’s offer of mercy and grace.
God’s Plan In Preparation
Did God understand that man would rebel, and stand in eventual need of salvation from the perilous state of his own sinful condition? The Scriptures make it clear that He did. Inspiration speaks of a divine plan set in place even “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20). After the initial fall of man, humankind dredged itself deeper and deeper into wickedness. When approximately a century of preaching by the righteous Noah failed to bring mankind back to God, Jehovah sent a worldwide flood to purge the Earth (Genesis 6-8). From the faithful Noah, several generations later, the renowned Abraham was descended, and, through him, eventually the Hebrew nation would be established. From that nation, the Messiah—God-incarnate—would come.
Some four centuries following Abraham, the Lord, through His servant Moses, gave to the Hebrews the written revelation that came to be known as the Law of Moses. Basically, this law-system had three purposes. First, its intent was to define sin and sharpen Israel’s awareness of it. To use Paul’s expression in the New Testament, the Law made “sin exceeding sinful” (Romans 7:7,13). Second, the law was designed to show man that he could not, by his own merit or efforts, save himself. For example, the Law demanded perfect obedience, and since no mere man could keep it perfectly, all stood condemned (Galatians 3:10-11). Thus, the Law underscored the need for a Savior—Someone Who could do for us what we were unable to do for ourselves. Third, in harmony with that need, the Old Testament pointed the way toward the coming of the Messiah. He was to be Immanuel—“God with us” (Matthew 1:23).
Mankind was prepared for the coming of the Messiah in several ways. Theophanies were temporary appearances of God in various forms (see Genesis 16:7ff.; 18:1ff.; 22:11ff., etc.). A careful examination of the facts leads to the conclusion that many of these manifestations were of the preincarnate Christ. In addition, the Old Testament contains types (pictorial previews) of the coming Messiah. For example, every bloody sacrifice was a symbol of the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Finally, there are more than 300 prophecies containing countless minute details that speak of the coming Prince of Peace. These prophecies name the city in which He was to be born, the purpose of His earthly sojourn, and even the exact manner of His death. The simple fact is, Jehovah left no stone unturned in preparing the world for the coming of the One Who was to save mankind.
God’s Plan In Action
One of God’s attributes, as expressed within Scripture, is that He is an absolutely holy Being (see Revelation 4:8; Isaiah 6:3). As such, He simply cannot ignore the fact of sin. The prophet Habakkuk wrote: “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong” (1:13). Yet another of God’s attributes is that He is absolutely just. Righteousness and justice are the very foundation of His throne (Psalm 89:14). The irresistible truth arising from the fact that God is both holy and just is that sin must be punished!
If God were a cold, vengeful Creator (as some infidels wrongly assert), He simply could have banished mankind from His divine presence forever, and that would have been the end of the matter. But the truth is, He is not that kind of God! Our Creator is loving (1 John 4:8), and “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4). Thus, the problem became: How could a loving, merciful God pardon rebellious humanity?
Paul addressed this very matter in Romans 3. How could God be just, and yet a justifier of sinful man? The answer: He would find someone to stand in for us— someone to receive His retribution, and to bear our punishment. That “someone” would be Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He would become a substitutionary sacrifice, and personally would pay the price for human salvation. In one of the most moving tributes ever written to the Son of God, Isaiah summarized the situation like this:
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all (53:5-6).
Jehovah’s intent was to extend grace and mercy freely—through the redemptive life and death of His Son (Romans 3:24ff.). As a member of the Godhead, Christ took upon Himself the form of a man. He came to Earth as a human being (John 1:1-4,14; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Timothy 3:16), and thus shared our full nature and life-experiences. He even was tempted in all points, just we are, yet He never yielded to that temptation (Hebrews 4:15).
But what has this to do with us? Since Christ was tried (Isaiah 28:16), and yet found perfect (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22), He alone could satisfy heaven’s requirement for justice. He alone could serve as the “propitiation” (atoning sacrifice) for our sins. Just as the lamb without blemish that was used in Old Testament sacrifices could be the (temporary) propitiation for the Israelites’ sins, so the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29) could be the (permanent) propitiation for mankind’s sins. In the gift of Christ, Heaven’s mercy was extended; in the death of the Lamb of God, divine justice was satisfied; and, in the resurrection of Christ, God’s plan was documented and sealed historically forever!
MANKIND’S APPROPRIATION OF
GOD’S GIFT OF SALVATION
As wonderful as God’s gift of salvation is, there is one thing it is not. It is not unconditional. Mankind has a part to play in this process. While the gift of salvation itself is free (in the sense that the price levied already has been paid by Christ), God will not force salvation on anyone. Rather, man must—by the exercise of his personal volition and free moral agency—do something to accept the pardon that heaven offers. What is that “something”?
In His manifold dealings with mankind, Jehovah has stressed repeatedly the principle that man, if he would be justified, must live “by faith” (see Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). Salvation has been available across the centuries, conditioned upon God’s foreknowledge of the atoning death of Christ upon the Cross at Calvary (see Galatians 4:4-5; Hebrews 9:15-17; 10:1ff.). Yet “living by faith” never denoted a mere “mental ascent” of certain facts. Instead, “living by faith” denoted active obedience.
Faith consists of three elements: (1) an acknowledgment of historical facts; (2) a willingness to trust the Lord; and (3) a wholehearted submission (obedience) to the divine will. Further, it should be remembered that faith has not always—for all men, in all circumstances—required the same things. It always has required obedience, but obedience itself has not always demanded the same response.
For example, in God’s earliest dealings with men, obedient faith required that those men offer animal sacrifices at the family altar (Genesis 4:4). Later, God dealt with the nation of Israel, giving them the Law at Mount Sinai (Exodus 20). Under that Law, animal sacrifices continued, along with the observance of certain feast days and festivals. Acceptable faith, under whatever law that was then in force, demanded obedience to the will of God.
The Scriptures are clear that the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26) is based on the Word of God (Romans 10:13), and that both the faith and the obedience are demonstrated by action. Hebrews 11, in fact, devotes itself to an examination of that very concept. “By faith” Abel offered. “By faith” Noah prepared. “By faith” Abraham obeyed. “By faith,” Moses refused. And so on. Even the casual reader cannot help but be impressed with the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11:32-40, and the action they took because of their faith. Writing by inspiration, James observed that faith, divorced from obedience, is dead (James 2:26). What, then, is involved in this “obedience of faith” in regard to salvation? What must a person do to be saved?
Several critically important questions need to be asked here. First, where is salvation found? Paul told Timothy: “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10, emp. added).
Second, where are all spiritual blessings found? Spiritual blessings are found only “in Christ.” Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (emp. added).
Third, and most important, how, then, does one get “into Christ”? In other words, how does the alien sinner rid himself of his soul-damning sin? What “obedience of faith” is required to appropriate the free gift of salvation that places him “in Christ”?
THE ROAD HOME: SALVATION THROUGH
THE “OBEDIENCE OF FAITH”
The only way to find the “road home” to heaven is to follow God’s directions exactly. There are numerous things God has commanded that a person do in order to enjoin the “obedience of faith” and thereby receive the free gift of salvation. According to God’s Word, in order to be saved a person must do the following.
First, the sinner must hear God’s Word (Romans 10:17). Obviously, one cannot follow God’s commands if he has not heard them, so God commanded that people hear what He has said regarding salvation.
Second, one who is lost cannot be saved if he does not believe what he hears. So, God commanded that belief ensue (John 3:16; Acts 16:31).
Third, one who is lost cannot obtain salvation if he is unwilling to repent of his sins and seek forgiveness (Luke 13:3). Without repentance he will continue in sin; thus, God commanded repentance.
Fourth, since Christ is the basis of our salvation, God commanded the penitent sinner to confess Him before men as the Son of God (Romans 10:9-10).
However, this is not all that God commanded. Hearing, believing, repentance, and confession will not rid one of his sin. The overriding question is: How does one get rid of sin? Numerous times within the pages of the New Testament, that question is asked and answered. The Jews who had murdered Christ, and to whom Peter spoke on the Day of Pentecost when he ushered in the Christian age, asked that question. Peter’s sermon had convicted them. They were convinced that they were sinners, and desperately in need of salvation at the hand of an almighty God. Their question then became: “...brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Peter’s response could not have been any clearer. He told them: “repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38). Saul, who later would become Paul, the famous apostle to the Gentiles, needed an answer to that same question. While on a trip to Damascus for the explicit purpose of persecuting Christians, Saul was blinded (see Acts 22). Realizing his plight, he asked: “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10). When God’s servant, Ananias, appeared to Saul in the city, he answered Saul’s question by commanding: “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins” (Acts 22:16).
What, then, is the correct biblical answer regarding how one rids himself of soul-damning sin? The biblical solution is that the person who has heard the gospel, who has believed its message, who has repented of past sins, and who has confessed Christ as Lord must then—in order to receive remission (forgiveness) of sins—be baptized. [The English word “baptize” is a transliteration of the Greek word baptizo, meaning to immerse, dip, plunge beneath, or submerge (Thayer, 1958, p. 94).]
Further, it is baptism that puts a person “in Christ.” Paul told the first-century Christians in Rome:
Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).
Paul told the Galatians: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ” (3:27, emp. added). Little wonder, then, that Peter spoke of baptism as that which saves (1 Peter 3:21).
Numerous New Testament writers made the point that it is only when we come into contact with Christ’s blood that our sins can be washed away (Ephesians 1:7-8; Revelation 5:9; Romans 5:8-9; Hebrews 9:12-14). The question arises: When did Jesus shed His blood? The answer, of course, is that He shed His blood on the Cross at His death (John 19:31-34). Where, and how, does one come into contact with Christ’s blood to obtain the forgiveness of sin that such contact ensures? Paul answered that question when he wrote to the Christians in Rome. It is only in baptism that contact with the blood, and the death, of Christ is made (Romans 6:3-11). Further, the ultimate hope of our resurrection (to live with Him in heaven) is linked to baptism. Paul wrote of “having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12). If we are not baptized, we remain in our sins. If we are not baptized, we have no hope of the resurrection that leads to heaven.
Baptism, of course, is no less, or more, important than any other of God’s commands regarding what to do to be saved (see Jackson, 1997). But it is necessary. And one cannot be saved without it. Is baptism a command of God? Yes, it is (Acts 10:48). Is baptism where the remission of sins occurs? Yes, it is (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21).
Some, who no doubt mean well, teach that a person is saved by “faith only.” In other words, people are taught simply to “pray and ask Jesus to come into their hearts,” so that they might be saved from their sins. This teaching, though widespread, is completely at odds with the Bible’s specific instructions regarding what one must do to be saved.
First, the Scriptures teach clearly that God does not hear (i.e., hear to respond with forgiveness) the prayer of an alien sinner (Psalm 34:15-16; Proverbs 15:29; Proverbs 28:9). Thus, the sinner can pray as long and as hard as he wants, but God has stated plainly how a person is to be saved. This makes perfect sense, since in John 14:6 Christ taught: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one cometh to the Father but by me.” The alien sinner cannot approach God on his own, and, as an alien sinner, has no advocate to do so on his behalf. That is one of the spiritual blessings reserved for Christians (Ephesians 1:3). Thus, it is fruitless for an alien sinner to pray to God to “send Jesus into his heart.” God does not hear (i.e., hear to respond to) such a request.
Second, the Scriptures plainly teach that man cannot be saved by faith alone. James, in his epistle, remarked that indeed, a man may be justified (i.e., saved), but “not only by faith” (James 2:24). This, too, makes perfect sense. As James had observed just a few verses earlier: “Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well; the demons also believe, and shudder” (James 2:19). It is not enough merely to believe. Even the demons in hell believe, but they hardly are saved (see 2 Peter 2:4). It is obvious, therefore, that mere faith alone is insufficient to save.
Also, where, exactly, in the Scriptures does it teach that, in order to be saved, one is to “pray to ask Jesus to come into his heart”? Through the years, I have asked many within various religious groups this question, but have yet to find anyone who could provide a single biblical reference to substantiate such a claim. Salvation is not conditioned on prayer; it is conditioned on the “obedience of faith.” Saul, as Christ’s enemy-turned-penitent, prayed earnestly. But the fact remains that his sins were removed (“washed away”) only when he obeyed God’s command, as verbalized by Ananias, to be baptized. Prayer could not wash away Saul’s sins; the Lord’s blood could—at the point of baptism (Hebrews 9:22; Ephesians 5:26).
The biblical message—from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22—is that mankind is in a woefully sinful condition, and desperately in need of help in order to find his way “back home.” A corollary to that message is that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11), and genuinely desires that all should be saved (John 3:16). But in order to be saved, one must do exactly what God commanded, in exactly the way God commanded it. When a person hears, believes, repents, confesses, and is baptized for the forgiveness of his sins, that person becomes a Christian—nothing more, and nothing less. God Himself then adds that Christian to His Son’s one true body—the church. The child of God who remains faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10) is promised a crown of life and eternity in heaven as a result of his faith, his obedience, God’s mercy, and God’s grace (John 14:15; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 1:5). What a joyous thought—to live the “abundant life” (John 10:10b) with a “peace that passeth understanding” (Philippians 4:7) here and now, and then to be rewarded with a home in heaven in the hereafter (John 14:2-3). What a joyous thought indeed!
Jackson, Wayne (1997), “The Role of ‘Works’ in the Plan of Salvation,” Christian Courier, 32:47, April.
Thayer, J.H. (1958 reprint), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark).
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I would like to thank my friend and colleague, Wayne Jackson, for permission to employ in this article material on God’s plan of salvation from the Study Course in Christian Evidences that he and I co-authored (Apologetics Press, 1992).
In Defense of...Christ's Church
|by||Bert Thompson, Ph.D.|
“But when the fulness of the time came,” the apostle Paul wrote, “God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). God-incarnate had come to Earth, bringing the “good news” about the last and final covenant that Heaven would make with man. The series of events that began with the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, and culminated in His death, burial, and resurrection outside Jerusalem approximately thirty-three years later, stirred a whirlwind of controversy in the first century. Twenty centuries later, it still does.
To the Christian, there is little of more importance than the proclamation and defense of the Old Jerusalem Gospel that is able to save men’s souls. Christianity did not come into the world with a whimper, but a bang. It was not in the first century, neither is it intended to be in the twentieth, something “done in a corner.” Instead, it arrived like a trumpet’s clarion call.
Christ spent three-and-a-half years teaching in order to make disciples. When finally He was ready to call them to action, it was not for a quiet retreat into the peaceful, nearby hills. He never intended that they be “holy men” who set themselves apart to spend each hour of every day in serene meditation. Rather, they were to be soldiers—fit for a spiritual battle against forces of evil (Ephesians 6:10-17). Jesus called for action, self-denial, uncompromising love for truth, and zeal coupled with knowledge. His words to those who would follow Him were: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34). And many did.
The teaching did not stop when Christ left to return to His home in heaven. He had trained others—apostles and disciples—to continue the task He had begun. They were sent to the uttermost parts of the world with the mandate to proclaim the gospel boldly through preaching and teaching (Matthew 28:18-20). This they did daily (Acts 5:42). The result was additional, new disciples. They too, then, were instructed and grounded in the fundamentals of God’s Word (Acts 2:42), and sent on their way to teach still others.
The results were extraordinary indeed. In a single day, in a single city, over 3,000 constituted the original church as a result of the teaching they had heard from Christ’s apostles (see Acts 2:41). In fact, so effective was this kind of instruction that the enemies of Christianity attempted to prohibit any further public teaching (Acts 4:18; 5:28), yet to no avail. Two millennia later, the theme of the Cross still is alive, vibrant, and forceful. Christianity’s central message, the manner in which that message was taught, and the dedication of those into whose hands it had been placed, were too powerful for even its bitterest foes to abate or defeat. That Christianity continues to be taught, and to thrive, is evidence aplenty of this fact.
While it may be true to say that some religions flourish best in secrecy, such is not the case with Christianity. It is intended both to be presented, and to be defended, in the marketplace of ideas. In addition, while some religions eschew open investigation and critical evaluation, Christianity welcomes both. Of all the major religions based upon an individual rather than a mere ideology, it is the only one that claims, and can document, an empty tomb for its Founder.
Furthermore, Christians, unlike adherents to some other religions, do not have an option regarding the distribution and/or dissemination of their faith. The efficacy of God’s saving grace—as made possible through His Son, Jesus Christ—is a message that all accountable people need to hear, and one that Christians are commanded to proclaim (John 3:16; Matthew 28:18-20; cf. Ezekiel 33:7-9).
CHRIST’S CHURCH—HIS SINGULAR,
UNIQUE BODY OF SAVED BELIEVERS
At Caesarea Philippi, situated at the base of Mount Hermon that rises over seven thousand feet above it, Jesus asked His disciples how the public viewed Him. “Who do men say that the Son of man is?,” He inquired (Matthew 16:13). The reply of the disciples was: “Some say, John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets” (16:14). But Jesus delved deeper when He asked the disciples: “But who say ye that I am?” (16:15). Ever the impulsive one, Simon Peter quickly answered: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (16:16). Jesus’ response to Peter was this:
Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (16:17-18).
Jesus had come “in the fulness of time” to bring the one thing that all the Earth’s inhabitants needed. From Cain, the first murderer, to the lawless men who eventually would put Him to death on the cross, mankind desperately needed the salvation that the heavenly plan would provide. In writing to the young evangelist Timothy, Paul observed that it had been God’s plan to save men through Christ even before the foundation of the world. He wrote of God, “who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal” (2 Timothy 1:9). Through His foreknowledge, God knew that sinful man one day would need redemption from sin. In fact, throughout the history of Israel, God made both promises and prophecies concerning a coming kingdom, and its King. The promise was that from David’s seed, God would build a “house” and “kingdom” (2 Samuel 7:11-17—a promise, incidentally, that was reaffirmed in Psalm 132:11, and preached as reality by Peter in Acts 2:29-34 when the church began). Seven hundred years prior to Christ’s arrival, the great prophet Isaiah foretold:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Thus, Christ’s exclamation to Peter that the building of His church would be upon a “rock” was nothing more than what the Old Testament prophets had foretold hundreds of years before. Isaiah prophesied: “Therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone of sure foundation: he that believeth shall not be in haste” (Isaiah 28:16). Later, Peter himself—through inspiration, and no doubt with the events of Caesarea Philippi still fresh on his mind—would make reference to this very rock foundation when he wrote about the “living stone, rejected indeed of men.... The stone which the builders rejected, the same was made the head of the corner” (1 Peter 2:4,7). In fact, even Jesus Himself mentioned the “rejected stone” of Old Testament allusion. In Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, and Luke 20:17, He made reference to the psalmist’s statement about “the stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner” (Psalm 118:22), and applied the rejection of the stone by the builders to the Sanhedrin’s rejection and repudiation of Him.
Sadly, some today erroneously teach that Christ’s church was established out of desperation, as an “emergency measure” set in motion when the Jews rejected Him as Savior. The basis for such a view is the idea that Jesus presented Himself to the Jewish nation as its Messiah, but was rebuffed—a rejection that came as an unexpected surprise to Him and His Father. Christ’s failure to convince the Jews of His rightful place as their King forced Him to have to re-evaluate, and eventually delay, His plans—His intention being to re-establish His kingdom at some distant point in the future. In the meantime, the story goes, He established the church to allay temporarily the complete failure of His mission.
However, such a view ignores the inspired writers’ observations that “before times eternal” God had set in motion His plan for man’s salvation as His Son’s church. [The Greek word ekklesia, translated “church” in the English, denotes God’s “called out.”] It ignores the Old Testament prophecies that specifically predicted Christ’s rejection by the Jews. And, it ignores Christ’s own allusions to those prophecies during His earthly ministry. But worst of all, it impeaches the omniscience of both God and His Son by suggesting that they were “caught off guard” by the Jews’ rejection of Christ as the Messiah, thus causing Heaven’s emissary to have to rethink His plans. What an offensive, and unscriptural, view this is!
Jesus was a man with a mission—and He completed successfully what He had come to accomplish. Deity had come to Earth, taking the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7) to communicate to man the truth (John 8:32) about the lost state in which man now found himself (Romans 3:23; 6:23), and to pay the ransom for man (Matthew 20:28), thereby extricating him from a situation from which he could not extricate himself (Jeremiah 10:23).
When Christ died upon the cross, it was not for any sin that He personally had committed. Though He was tempted in all points like as we are, He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). When Peter wrote that Jesus “did not sin,” he employed a verbal tense which suggests that the Lord never sinned—not even once (1 Peter 2:22). Isaiah repeatedly emphasized the substitutionary nature of the Lord’s death when he wrote: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.... Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6). When the prophet declared that our “iniquity” was laid upon the Son of God, he employed a figure of speech known as metonymy (wherein one thing is used to designate another). In this case, the cause is being used for the effect. In other words, God did not actually put our sins upon Christ; He put the penalty of our wrongs upon His Son at Calvary. Yet, in spite of the fact that all sinners deserve to be lost, God provided a way to “escape the judgment of hell” (Matthew 23:33).
Jesus made it clear that He would provide this way of escape through a plan that would result in the establishment of His church—i.e., His body of “the called out.” The first messianic prophecy was to be fulfilled: Satan would bruise the Lord’s heel, but the Lord would overcome, and bruise Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15). Against the building of Christ’s church, not even the Gates of Hades could prevail (Matthew 16:18).
Further, there would be one and only one church. Paul wrote that Christ “is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18). In Ephesians 1:22, he stated concerning Christ that God “gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body.” Thus, Paul clearly identified the body as the church. Three chapters later, however, in Ephesians 4:4, Paul stated: “There is one body.” Expressed logically, one might reason as follows:
There is one body (Ephesians 4:4).
But Christ is the Savior of the body (Ephesians 5:22).
Thus, Christ is the Savior of one body.
But Christ is the Savior of the body (Ephesians 5:22).
Thus, Christ is the Savior of one body.
Christ is the Savior of one body.
But the body is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians1:18,24).
Thus, Christ is the Savior of one church.
But the body is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians1:18,24).
Thus, Christ is the Savior of one church.
The body, Christ’s church, would be known as “the church of the Lord” (Acts 20:28), “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:13), “the house of God” (1 Timothy 3:15), “the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10), and “the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:23, 31). The Lord’s people were to bear Christ’s name (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). The church would be His bride (Revelation 21:2), His wife (Revelation 19:7-8), and His kingdom (Revelation 1:9). Those in it would be victorious over Satan and death forever (1 Corinthians 15:26,54-56; 2 Timothy 1:9-10).
Unfortunately, men sought to alter the divine plan, and to infuse it with their own personal belief systems. Thus, the concept of denominationalism was born. Denominationalism, however, is unknown to, and unauthorized by, the Word of God. A denomination is defined as: “a class or kind having a specific name or value.” We speak of various monetary denominations—a five dollar bill, a ten dollar bill, etc. They are all different. The same is true of religious denominations. They are all different.
Denominationalism ignores the singularity and uniqueness of the true church, and establishes various groups teaching conflicting doctrines that are antagonistic both to the Bible and to each other. It also ignores the church’s relationship to Christ, described so beautifully in Ephesians 5 where Paul reminded first-century Christians that “the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church” (5:23). The apostle’s point was this: In a physical context, the wife is the bride, and the husband is the bridegroom; in a spiritual context, the church is the bride, and Christ is the bridegroom. [John reiterated this in Revelation 21:9.] In Acts, Peter discussed Christ’s relationship to His church when he observed that “neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Denominations are man-made institutions that neither are recognized in, nor sanctioned by, the Word of God. The simple truth of the matter is that John the Baptist—while a marvelous harbinger of the Messiah—did not die to establish the church. Why, then, be a member of a denomination bearing his name? As great a reformer as Martin Luther was, the fact remains that he did not die to establish the church. Why, then, be a member of a denomination bearing his name? The early church’s presbyters (i.e., elders, bishops, overseers) did not give their lives on a cross to establish the church. Why, then, be a member of a denomination named after such men? The Bible—although it prophesies the coming of the church and documents its arrival—did not make possible the church. Why, then, be a member of a “Bible church”? Instead, should not Christians seek to be simply a member of the singular church that honors Christ’s authority, and that He purchased with His blood? It is His bride; He is its bridegroom. His congregations are called the “churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16).
Those who are true New Testament Christians are those who have done exactly what God has commanded them to do to be saved, in exactly the way God has commanded that it be done. In so doing, they have not “joined” some man-made religious denomination that, like a five-dollar bill is one denomination among many others, is simply one religious group among many others. If the church is the body, and there is only one body, then there is only one church. Further, one does not “join” the church. The Scriptures teach that as a person is saved, God Himself “adds” that person to the one true church (Acts 2:41) that bears His Son’s name.
CHRIST’S CHURCH—HIS DIVINELY DESIGNED,
BLOOD-BOUGHT, SPIRIT-FILLED KINGDOM
During His earthly ministry, Jesus taught: “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). Having such authority from His Father, He alone possessed the right to be Head of the church, His singular body of believers (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18). Recognizing Christ’s position as authoritative Head of the church, Paul was constrained to remind Christians: “And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of [by the authority of—BT] the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17).
Christ announced while on Earth that He would build His church (Matthew 16:18). It would be divinely designed (John 10:25; Acts 2:23), blood-bought (Acts 20:28), and Spirit-filled (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Romans 8:9-10). On Pentecost following the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection, Peter rebuked the Jews for their duplicity in killing God’s Son, and convicted them of their sin of murder (Acts 2:22-23). Luke recorded that they were “pricked in their heart” and sought to make restitution and be forgiven (Acts 2:27). On that fateful day, at least 3,000 people were added together by God to constitute Christ’s church (Acts 2:41). Later, Luke noted that great fear fell upon the whole church as a result of God’s having disciplined sinners within it (Acts 5:11). There is no doubt that the church was established in Christ’s generation.
The Bible speaks of the church as Christ’s kingdom. Jesus said the time for its coming had been “fulfilled” (Mark 1:15), and that the kingdom was as near as the generation of people to whom He spoke, since some of them would not taste of death before they saw the kingdom of heaven come (Mark 9:1). Paul taught that the church is constituted of saints (1 Corinthians 1:1-2). But when he wrote his epistle to the Colossians (c. A.D. 62), he specifically stated that by that time the saints in the church at Colossae were subjects in “the kingdom of the Son of his love” (Colossians 1:13). If the kingdom had not been established, then Paul erred in saying that the Colossians already were in it. [Those who teach that the church and the kingdom are separate, and that the kingdom has yet to arrive, must contend that there are living on the Earth today some of the very people to whom Jesus spoke nearly 2,000 years ago—since He stated that some who heard Him would not die until the kingdom had come (Mark 9:1).]
The New Testament teaches that the church is composed of individuals purchased with the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28), and that those so purchased were made to be a kingdom (Revelation 1:5-6; 5:9-10). Since the church and the kingdom both are composed of blood-purchased individuals, the church and the kingdom must be the same. And since the Christians that constitute the church were themselves translated into the kingdom, it is conclusive that the church and the kingdom are the same. The establishment of the kingdom coincided with the establishment of the church. Not only did the Lord foretell both the establishment of the kingdom and the church in the His generation, but the New Testament writers spoke of both the church and the kingdom as being in existence during the very generation of His arrival (i.e., the first century).
CHRIST’S TRIUMPHANT CHURCH
From the first to the last of His earthly ministry, Jesus admonished those who would be His disciples that they would be both controversial, and persecuted. He warned them:
Think not that I came to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law: and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household (Matthew 10:34-36).
Jesus wanted no misunderstanding about the trials and tribulations His followers would endure. He constantly reminded them of such (Matthew 10:16, 39; 16:24; 24:9; John 15:2,18, 20; 16:1-2; 21:18-19). While He desired that men be at peace with men, His primary goal was to bring men to a peaceful, covenant relationship with God. In addressing the Christians at Rome, Paul wrote:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?... Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35,37-39).
Christ alerted His followers to the pressure yet to be brought upon them by other religions (Matthew 10:17), by civil governments (Matthew 10:18), and sadly, by some of their own (2 Thessalonians 3:1ff.). He said: “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22). History records that Christ’s words accurately depicted what was to befall those early saints. As James O. Baird has noted: “In actuality, Christianity was opposed more vigorously than any other religion in the long history of Rome” (1978, p. 29).
Persecution against the church was, and is, rooted in the nature and work of Christ: “But me it hateth, because I testify of it, that its works are evil” (John 7:7). The world hated Christ because of the judgment He brought against what the world is, does, and loves. It will hate those in the church who remind it—by word and deed—of this judgment. Jesus lamented: “If the world hateth you, ye know that it hath hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). Hatred often results in persecution. The church, if true to its mission, will be opposed. But Jesus also said:
Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you (Matthew 5:11-12).
One thing, however, was beyond doubt. Those saints who remained faithful—even unto death if necessary—would be triumphant (Revelation 2:10). As the great Restorationist, F.G. Allen, so beautifully wrote:
One by one will we lay our armor down at the feet of the Captain of our salvation. One by one will we be laid away by tender hands and aching hearts to rest on the bosom of Jesus. One by one will our ranks be thus thinned, till erelong we shall all pass over to the other side. But our cause will live. Eternal truth shall never perish. God will look down from His habitation on high, watch over it in His providence, and encircle it in the arms of His love. God will raise up others to take our places; and may we transmit the cause to them in its purity! Though dead, we shall thus speak for generations yet to come, and God grant that we shall give no uncertain sound! Then may we from our blissful home on high, watch the growth of the cause we love, till it shall cover the whole earth as the waters cover the face of the great deep (1949, pp. 176-177).
[EDITOR’S NOTE: In the March 1998 issue of Reason & Revelation (“In Defense Of...God’s Plan of Salvation”), I addressed the biblical requirements for entrance into Christ’s church. Space limitations precluded such a discussion in this article.]
Allen, F.G. (1949), “The Principles and Objects of the Current Reformation,” Foundation Facts and Primary Principles, ed. G.C. Brewer (Kansas City, MO: Old Paths Book Club).
Baird, James O. (1978), “The Trials and Tribulations of the Church from the Beginning,” The Future of the Church, ed. William Woodson (Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman College).
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
Very little debate exists regarding what has the power to forgive sins. The Bible is abundantly clear that the blood of Christ maintains that singular quality. The apostle Paul wrote: “In Him (Christ—KB) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins…” (Ephesians 1:7). While few would argue with the fact that the blood of Jesus forgives sins, there remains some confusion as to the specific point at which a person comes in contact with that blood. One way to ascertain when a person comes into contact with the blood of Christ is to examine the phrase “in Christ” in the New Testament. Depending on what version you read, the phrase “in Christ” is used approximately 80 different times.
What do we find “in Christ?” Paul, in the book of Ephesians, used the phrase multiple times in chapter 1. He stated that “every spiritual blessing” is found in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). He also stated that “forgiveness of sins” is found only in Christ (vs. 7). In the book of Romans, he further stated that “redemption” (Romans 3:24) and “eternal life” (Romans 6:23) are located in Christ. The inspired apostle told the young man Timothy that “salvation” is inChrist (2 Timothy 2:10). Paul obviously wanted his readers to understand that everything good in the spiritual realm is found in Christ alone. When discussing things outside of Christ, Paul painted a grim picture of a place without hope and without God (Ephesians 2:12).
After looking at the phrase “in Christ,” the question arises: How does a person get into Christ? It is interesting to note that the New Testament specifically mentions water baptism as one essential element that puts a person into Christ. Romans 6:3 states: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (emp. added). And Galatians 3:27 declares: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (emp. added). While some have incorrectly attempted to claim that the baptism mentioned in these two verses refers to Holy Spirit baptism, many religious people have not resorted to this faulty line of reasoning (Miller, 2003).
Andrew Davis, in his contribution to the book, Why I Am A Baptist, wrote that water baptism “was commanded by Christ in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19) and demonstrates the new life in Christ for every disciple (Rom. 6)” (2001, p. 118). His reference to Romans 6 shows that he understands water baptism is under discussion in that chapter. Conrad Mbewe wrote: “I also saw that baptism signified dying with Christ, being buried with him, and rising together with him in newness of life (Romans 6:4). It was an outward physical expression of an inward spiritual experience” (2001, p. 97). In regard to the second passage, Galatians 3:27, J. Newton Brown listed both Romans 6:4 and Galatians 3:27-28 in his section discussing water baptism as taught in the New Testament (1994, pp. 23-24).
Let us, then, put these pieces together. If the Bible says that forgiveness and all spiritual blessings are in Christ, and if Romans 6:3 and Galatians 3:27 clearly state that water baptism is the point at which a person gets into Christ, then any accountable person who has not been baptized by water is outside of Christ. Water of baptism does not save anyone by itself, but it is the point at which a person contacts the saving blood of Christ.
It is ironic that at the same time many religious groups and teachers teach that Romans 6:3 and Galatians 3:27 refer to water baptism they deny that water baptism puts a person into Christ. Such a position militates against the straightforward reading of these two passages, which shows that water baptism is the point when a person is ushered into Christ and contacts His blood (for a more in-depth study see Lyons and Butt, 2004).
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2004), “Taking Possession of What God Gives: A Case Study in Salvation,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2546.
Mbewe, Conrad (2001), “Flying the Flags High in Africa: Baptist Hope for a Ravaged Continent,” Why I Am a Baptist, ed. Tom Nettles and Russell Moore (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Modern-day Miracles, Tongue-speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism—A Refutation,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2569.
Brown, J. Newton (1994), A Baptist Church Manual (Valley Forge, PA: Judson).
Davis, Andrew (2001), “When Our Senses Get in the Way: From Catholic Sacraments to Baptist Conviction,” Why I Am a Baptist, ed. Tom Nettles and Russell Moore (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman).