Acts 26

Tonight’s local hypercon TV show featured a message the host presented at a recent cofC-sponsored tent meeting in a nearby town.  In the beginning of his talk, the host asked his audience to go home and look up Acts 26:17-20.  Then he said,

“…you will hear the Apostle Paul say that you better get ready to do some work.  Everybody says that Paul said that it’s faith only, that’s not in the Bible.  No preacher in this town can show you the Scripture where it says “faith only”.  And I can show you where the Apostle Paul said that Jesus Christ told him to preach to the Gentiles that they better turn from darkness to light, and they better do works meet for repentance, in other works to show that you have repented… that is in the book and Jesus said it to Paul…

The interesting thing about this statement (especially with the “faith only” comments) is that the host says that works are required for salvation, and then he claims that Paul was somehow saying such a thing in this passage.  

t’aint so, McGee.

This passage isn’t dealing with how to be saved – as the host even said, “work meets repentance” means that after you’ve become a believer, you will do works that prove you are a believer.  Let’s look at it again.  

The Greek word translated by the KJV as “meet” is the Greek word ἄξιος (“axios”) which also translates like this: “befitting, congruous, corresponding to a thing” (look here for more info on this Greek word).  In other words, it isn’t saying that you have to work for your salvation, but that when you’ve turned from darkness to light, there should be work that proves your repentance.

Let’s look at that passage in a more understandable (more modern) translation:

“…that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.”  Acts 26:20b NKJV

That’s still a bit hard to understand.  Let’s look at another even more modern translation:

“that they should repent and turn to God and perform deeds worthy of their repentance.” Acts 26:20b RSV

This is a point that our hypercon host and others who agree with his teaching seem to miss.  The work that the writer of Acts talks about here (as well as in James) is a work that happens because we’ve become followers of Christ – it’s not a work that we do to become a Christian.

This is one of the stunning misconceptions that our hypercon friends try to propagate – that we must work our way to heaven.  That we have the ability to work our way to heaven.  

Well, we don’t.  

I submit that our readers consider these verses with regard to the idea that we have much of anything to contribute to our salvation by way of works:

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” Romans 3:10  

“I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee.” Isaiah 57:12  

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6  

“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.” Ephesians 2:8-9

“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:27-28  

“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31

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For those who didn’t grow up in a church named “church of Christ”…

If you are trying to understand where these folks are coming from, I would highly recommend spending some time on the ex-church of Christ website – especially in the “Church of Christ: Doctrine & Culture” board.  There are some insight into this culture for those of us who weren’t raised in it.  

It’s really interesting to me as a person who was raised in a different faith tradition, and you might find it to be so as well.  At the least, it is informative to understanding any hyperconservative churches of Christ that might be in your community.

The DVD That Wasn’t Seen

In case you were wondering what was on that DVD that Chris didn’t show on Sunday night, he has uploaded it to the internet and given us permission to embed it here for your viewing pleasure.

You can comment here, or directly to Chris over at his blog: The Knight Shift.

The Scriptural Relationship between Faith, Belief and Salvation

Said to me by another hyperconservative Church of Christ preacher on a different internet site:

“I have no problem saying that according to the Scriptures you are not a Christian and you are in the wrong church.”

My response:

You won’t be the first hypercon to tell me that. I’ve also been told that by Muslims; JWs; and Mormons and others who believe we have to work for our salvation. And thankfully, I don’t receive my confidence in my standing before God from any of you – I receive my confidence from the Word. 

John 3:14-18
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.(v. 17) For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

John 1:12-13

“Yet to all who received Him [Christ], to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God [lit. from above = born again]”

John 3:36
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,[but] whoever refuses to believe in] the Son will not see life for God’s wrath remains on Him.”

John 5:24
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him Who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; He has crossed over from death to life.”

John 6:27-29
“[Jesus said]’Do not work for food that spoil, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.’

Then they asked Him,’What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered,’The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.’ ”

John 6:47
“I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.”

John 11:25-26
“Jesus said to her,’I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe in this?”

Acts 10:43
“All the prophets testify about him [Christ] that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”

Acts 13:38-39
“Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through Him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the Law of Moses.”

Romans 1:16
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew and then for the Gentile.”

Romans 3:22-26
“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith [in that atonement which was] in His blood. So as to be just and the One Who justifies those who have faith in Jesus”

Romans 4:1-5
“What shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter?

If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about – but not before God.

What does the Scripture say?’Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift but as an obligation.

However, to the man who does not work but trusts God Who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

Romans 5:1 
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

Romans 10:11-14
“As the Scripture says,’Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for,’Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?”

Ephesians 1:13-14
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – the praise of His glory.”

Eph 2:8-9
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it it the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

1 John 5:9-13
“We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which He has given about His Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about His Son.

Galatians 3:6-9, 14
“Consider Abraham:’He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham:’All nations will be blessed through you.’

So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit”

2 Thessalonians 2:13 
“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”

2 Timothy 1:9
“Who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because if anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace.”

Galatians 3:22 
“But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.” Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the Law, locked up until faith should be revealed.
So the Law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the Law. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

Philippians 3:9 
“And be found in Him,[Christ] not having a righteousness of my own that comes from law but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”

1 Pet 1:3-5
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

As I said, I receive my confidence in my standing before God from His Word.

An Interesting Take on the Baptism Issue

In my daily wanderings-around, I found the following comment regarding baptism which I had never heard before.  I’d be interested in other’s opinions on this comment:

“I grew up in the Church of Christ. It does not “remain silent where the Bible is silent”, it condemns where the Bible is silent. It creates doctrine where doctrine does not exist. This is Adding to the Word. You teach the washing away of sins from Peter and Ananias, which was in effect at the time, until Paul was specifically chosen by God to learn His Will, hear words from God’s mouth concerning the New Covenant, and pass on this info to others. (Acts 22:16) After Paul was taught by “revelation from Jesus Christ,” he never taught the washing away of sins. He taught they were taken away at the cross. Peter and Ananias taught what was in effect at the time, that “before the coming of Christ John taught baptism for the remission of sins.” Galations ch. 1 and 2 show it was 3 years Paul before Paul was introduced to Peter, and another 14 years before he first taught at Jerusalem. His teaching letters did not reach the churches for 40 or more years after the New Covenant began. The N.C. was in effect, but no one knew it until Paul was able to get teaching to them! Peter did not know the N.C. until he learned it from Paul. Ananias did not know it yet either. The Church of Christ gets it’s doctrine from Peter and Ananias, rather than from Paul’ teaching.”

Found here.

Answering Norm Fields – December 21, 2007

Norm:  “I’m the one in control of the airtime and we’re going to go about it the way it needs to be done.”

Thanks, Norm, for stating in a nutshell one of the main reasons why we started this blog.  Please go back and watch the tape of that broadcast, and you’ll see that while you kept asking your caller questions, you didn’t really give him much chance to respond.  I realize that you pay for the airtime, but why allow people to call in if you aren’t going to give them a chance to ask follow-up questions the way you do?  Instead, on your program, you can hit the “mute” button when you want, and shut the caller down.  On this blog, there is no “mute” button.

Norm had a nice little plug of his youtube site tonight, where he was reading through some comments on his youtube site and his responses to those comments.  I went over and left my own comment, and we’ll see if Norm puts it up.  I kind of doubt he will.  

To the broadcast:

1)  Norm made the comment that people were arguing against Scripture when they argued against his interpretation of Scripture.  And to prove this, he talks about how the commenter talks about “water baptism”, and Norm didn’t mention “water baptism” but did mention verses that talk about it.  Therefore, he somehow concludes that the commenter is arguing against Scripture, not against Norm.  “…it is one of the best examples I have seen of how denominational doctrines will cause you to argue against the clear Word of God.”  I believe the writer is arguing against you, Norm, and your interpretation of the Word of God.   You can see this conversation here.

More to come…  

One Blogger’s View on Acts 2:38 – Baptism & Salvation

I came across a blog by a Baptist blogger dealing with the Church of Christ position on baptism.  I’m interested to know if you folks think his arguments are sound.

http://baptistcollegestudent.blogspot.com/

Acts 2:38 is a verse commonly misunderstood by most people. A lot of people, like the Church of Christ, believe this verse teaches baptism is required for salvation but that is not what this verse is saying.

Acts 2:38

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

A large reason why this verse is misunderstood is because of our lack of knowledge of basic grammar. The part in italics is set off by commas so this makes it a separate statement. A similar example would be Andy Stanley, son of Charles Stanley, is a preacher. The commas could also be thought of as parenthesis. Repent (and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins) and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. So the statement in parenthesis or part set off by commas can be taken out and it will not affect the rest of the sentence. Repent and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. So the first thing we notice is when a person repents they receive the Holy Ghost. What about the part in italics?

The statement inside the commas says and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. The natural reaction people have is “See, when a person is baptized their sins are forgiven.” Let’s look at 2 other sentences. Take 2 Tylenol for a headache. He is on trial for murder. In the first example the person is taking Tylenol because they have a headache. They are not taking Tylenol to get a headache. In the 2nd example a person is on trial because they committed murder. They are not on trial to get murder. Likewise, a person gets baptized because of the remission of sins and not to get the remission of sins. Therefore, when a person’s sins have already been forgiven they get baptized. They do not get baptized to get their sins forgiven.

One may argue “Well I understand the word for can mean because of, but how do you know it means that in this case. Well if baptism did forgive sins which it doesn’t then Acts 2:38 is teaching us repenting gives us the Holy Ghost and water baptism forgives our sins. That would not make the slightest bit of sense. To my knowledge every person who teaches baptismal salvation believes repenting forgives sins and baptism gives us the Holy Ghost or both repentance and baptism are required to get either one. Repenting does give a person the Holy Ghost because once a person repents their sins are washed away and they receive the Holy Ghost.

Note: If you have a Bible that has a comma after baptized(Repent and be baptized,) instead of after (Repent,) then you have a serious heretical error. In this verse your Bible is teaching repent and be baptized is what results in receiving the Holy Ghost as opposed to repenting being what results in receiving the Holy Ghost. If that’s the case I’d suggest reading the King James because God doesn’t want you reading a book that teaches Jesus + baptism. It’s Jesus alone not Jesus + anything.