John – Day 33 – Getting to Know Jesus – “Religion” Can Be Boring But Jesus Was Not Boring Therefore: The Corporate Worship of God Should Not be Boring to Many. Reverence Does Not Equal Boring

After His brothers had gone up to the festival, then He also went up, not openly but secretly. The Jews were looking for Him at the festival and saying, “Where is He? ” And there was a lot of discussion about Him among the crowds. Some were saying, “He’s a good man.” Others were saying, “No, on the contrary, He’s deceiving the people.” Still, nobody was talking publicly about Him because they feared the Jews.

  • So God comes down to visit us and this is what happens in the social community! We humans are really messed up!
  • Since there were crowds at this festival, I wonder how many people were really in to this festival and I wonder how many people were bored to death at this festival (and the many other gatherings the Jews had).

When the festival was already half over, Jesus went up into the temple complex and began to teach. Then the Jews were amazed and said, “How does He know the Scriptures, since He hasn’t been trained? ”

  • If there were a bunch of people bored to death at this festival, I am sure when Jesus started speaking, they were no longer bored. “Religion” can be so boring but Jesus was not boring. I don’t think God ever intended corporate worship of Him to be boring. Reverence for God does not equal boring.
  • It’s so easy for religious groups to think we have a monopoly on truth when truth belongs to God alone. They obviously thought they and their systems were the only way to God at the time. In essence, they were asking how can Jesus know the Scriptures when we haven’t trained Him to know the Scriptures. I believe this showed they were both arrogant and ignorant.

Jesus answered them, “My teaching isn’t Mine but is from the One who sent Me. If anyone wants to do His will, he will understand whether the teaching is from God or if I am speaking on My own. The one who speaks for himself seeks his own glory. But He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. Didn’t Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law! Why do you want to kill Me? ” “You have a demon! ” the crowd responded. “Who wants to kill You? ” “I did one work, and you are all amazed,” Jesus answered. “Consider this: Moses has given you circumcision — not that it comes from Moses but from the fathers — and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses won’t be broken, are you angry at Me because I made a man entirely well on the Sabbath? Stop judging according to outward appearances; rather judge according to righteous judgment.””, John 7:10-24 HCSB

  • In other words, neither healing a man nor picking up one’s mat was illegal on the Sabbath. These commands were from men and not from God.

False Doctrines (Intro)

False Doctrines (Intro)

In approximately 56-57 A.D., the apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome:

Romans 16:17-18 (HCSB)
17 Now I implore you, brothers, watch out for those who cause dissensions and pitfalls contrary to the doctrine you have learned. Avoid them; 18 for such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

In approximately 62-66 A.D., the apostle Paul writes Timothy:

1 Tim 1:3-8 (HCSB)
3 As I urged you when I went to Macedonia, remain in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach other doctrine 4 or to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies. These promote empty speculations rather than God’s plan, which operates by faith. 5 Now the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. 6 Some have deviated from these and turned aside to fruitless discussion. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, although they don’t understand what they are saying or what they are insisting on. 8 Now we know that the law is good, provided one uses it legitimately.

A little later in that same letter to Timothy, Paul writes:

1 Tim 4:16 (HCSB)
16 Be conscientious about yourself and your teaching; persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

And a little later in that same letter to Timothy, Paul writes:

1 Tim 6:2-5 (HCSB)
Teach and encourage these things. 3 If anyone teaches other doctrine and does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness, 4 he is conceited, understanding nothing, but having a sick interest in disputes and arguments over words. From these come envy, quarreling, slanders, evil suspicions, 5 and constant disagreement among men whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness is a way to material gain.

In approximately 66–67 A.D., Paul writes once again to Timothy:

2 Tim 4:1-5 (HCSB)
1 Before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom, I solemnly charge you: 2 proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will accumulate teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. 4 They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But as for you, keep a clear head about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Even from a cursory reading of the above passages, it is obvious that the Holy Spirit kept urging Paul to warn others about people who taught false doctrine. So even in Paul’s day, we know that false doctrines were already being introduced to Jesus’ church and this was only approximately 33 years after Jesus had died on the cross! If there were already false doctrines being introduced to Jesus’ church 30 years after it was initiated at Pentecost, imagine the number of false doctrines that have likely been introduced into Jesus’ church in the 2000 years that have transpired since then. The purpose of this study is to expose as many modern day false doctrines as possible.

There are many different kinds of false doctrines but I believe that most false doctrines come about when a human, or group of humans, decide that their application of the scriptures or methodology of implementation of the scriptures is equivalent to God’s doctrine. I also believe that all false doctrines have something in common: They all subtract something from God’s Word.

Subtracting from God’s Word by Adding and Elevating the Traditions of Men

Mark 7:1-13 (HCSB)
1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Him. 2 They observed that some of His disciples were eating their bread with unclean—that is, unwashed—hands. 3 (For the Pharisees, in fact all the Jews, will not eat unless they wash their hands ritually, keeping the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they have washed. And there are many other customs they have received and keep, like the washing of cups, jugs, copper utensils, and dining couches.)

According to wikipedia, ‘The word Pharisees comes from the Hebrew פרושים prushim from פרוש parush, meaning “separated”, that is, one who is separated for a life of purity. The Pharisees were, depending on the time, a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews that flourished during the Second Temple Era (536 BC–70 AD).’

From what I understand, this group started out as a group of God fearing Jewish men who wanted to be as zealous for God as possible . In fact, they were so intent on making sure that they did not break the commands of God that they created these other practices that were designed to prevent them from even coming close to breaking the actual commands of God. On the surface, what these men were doing could have appeared to many to be very pleasing to God since these men appeared to be willing to do whatever it took to obey God’s Word. They even separated themselves from the ‘normal’ Jewish worshippers by forming an elite group of only, ‘sold out’ worshippers.

5 Then the Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why don’t Your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ritually unclean hands?” 6 He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written:

These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
7 They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.
8 Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men.”

9 He also said to them, “You completely invalidate God’s command in order to maintain your tradition! 10 For Moses said:

Honor your father and your mother;

and,

Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death.

11 But you say,

‘If a man tells his father or mother:

Whatever benefit you might have received from me is Corban ’ ” (that is, a gift [committed to the temple] ),

12 “you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother.13 You revoke God’s word by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.”

So we see that God was not at all pleased with what these Pharisees were doing! The problem was that as time went on, these practices (which became traditions that were passed on from the elders to everyone else) eventually became more important to this group than the actual commands of God. Thus the Pharisees subtracted from God’s actual commands by adding their own traditions and practices and making them take precedent over God’s commands! This is why Jesus quoted what Isaiah said, ‘They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men, Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men’. Not only was God not pleased with this group, He went even further and said that because they were obeying the rules of men instead of the commands of God, they were worshipping God ***in vain***. In other words, they may as well have done nothing at all because what they were doing accomplished nothing positive in their relationships with God.

It was bad enough that the Pharisees were themselves disregarding the commands of God for the sake of their own traditions, but what made it worse was what Jesus warned His disciples about and what Paul warned the Corinthians about:

Mark 8:15 (HCSB)
15 Then he commanded them: “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.”

1 Cor 5:6 (HCSB)
Don’t you know that a little yeast permeates the whole batch of dough?

So not only did the Pharisees themselves disregard the commands of God for the sake of their own traditions, they also forced everyone else to do the same. Going back to Mark 7, in verse 3, we read:

(For the Pharisees, in fact all the Jews, will not eat unless they wash their hands ritually, keeping the tradition of the elders.

So we see that the disregarding of God commands for the sake of their own traditions that the Pharisees were guilty of was forced on others and therefore spread to ‘all the Jews’. This why it is so critical to identify and correct false doctrines: to keep them from spreading like gangrene.

Subtracting from God’s Word by Ignoring Scriptures

Matt 4:1-11 (HCSB)
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. 2 After He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, He was hungry. 3 Then the tempter approached Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” 5 Then the Devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He will give His angels orders concerning you and, they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” 7 Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God.” 8 Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 And he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.” 11 Then the Devil left Him, and immediately angels came and began to serve Him.

So in this passage, we see that one of the ways the Devil tries to tempt Jesus is by quoting the following scripture:

Psalms 91:9-12 (HCSB)
9 Because you have made the Lord—my refuge, the Most High—your dwelling place, 10 no harm will come to you; no plague will come near your tent. 11 For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways. 12 They will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

The problem with what the Devil was trying to sell Jesus is that even though he quoted one scripture, he ignored other scriptures. Jesus, on the other hand, looked at all of God’s Word to determine what God’s Word really taught.

In the same way, today many false doctrines come about when some scriptures are emphasized while other scriptures are ignored.

Subtracting from God’s Word by Misinterpreting Scriptures

2 Peter 3:14-16 (HCSB)
14 Therefore, dear friends, while you wait for these things, make every effort to be found in peace without spot or blemish before Him. 15 Also, regard the patience of our Lord as [an opportunity for] salvation, just as our dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you. 16 He speaks about these things in all his letters, in which there are some matters that are hard to understand. The untaught and unstable twist them to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures.

Clearly, some false doctrines come about because someone twists the meaning of the scriptures.

FALSE DOCTRINE: ‘We Are The One True Church’ Claim

FALSE DOCTRINE: ‘We Are The One True Church’ Claim

Eph 4:1-6 (HCSB)
1 I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, 3 diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds [us] . 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope at your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

In the Ephesians 4 passage above, Paul tells the Ephesians, among other things, to accept one another in love and to diligently keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Then Paul says that there is one body and one Spirit. When Paul says, ‘there is one body’ he is obviously referring to Jesus’ church since Jesus’ church is many times referred to as the body of Christ.

1 Cor 12:12-13. 27 (HCSB)
12 For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it.

In the above passage, Paul says, ‘For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body…’, once again supporting the idea that there is one body of Christ which is led by one Spirit.

So the Bible does teach that there is one body of Christ led by one Spirit. Churches that teach The ‘One True Church’ false doctrine take this idea that there is one body of Christ led by one Spirit and take it a step further by claiming that their particular church is the one true church and that all other churches are not part of the body of Christ. Along with this, these churches claim that if one is not a part of their church, the one true church, one cannot be right with God.

Refutation

Although we have seen that the Bible does teach that there is one body led by one Spirit, God is the only One who can see exactly what individuals and/or what group of people are in His church. He is the only One who can say who is and who is not part of His body. No man or woman can see the boundaries of Jesus’ church and no individual or group of people can monopolize God’s Holy Spirit.

Matt 18:20 (HCSB)
20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.

John 4:19-24 (HCSB)
19 “Sir,” the woman replied, “I see that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, yet you [Jews] say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus told her, “Believe Me, woman, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Luke 17:20-21 (HCSB)
20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God will come, He answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with something observable; 21 no one will say, ‘Look here!’ or ‘There!’ For you see, the kingdom of God is among you.”

The reason I put this false teaching under ‘teaching as doctrines the commands of men’ is because I believe that ‘the one true church’ false teaching is going beyond what is written:

1 Cor 4:6 (HCSB)
6 Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the saying: “Nothing beyond what is written.” The purpose is that none of you will be inflated with pride in favor of one person over another.

FALSE DOCTRINE: Baptism is important but it is not necessary for salvation

FALSE DOCTRINE: Baptism is important but it is not necessary for salvation

Acts 2:36-41 (HCSB)
36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!” 37 When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?” 38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” 40 And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, “Be saved from this corrupt generation!” 41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them.

It’s hard to imagine how God could make it any clearer that everyone needs to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins and for them to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit than He makes it in Acts 2:36-41! Through Peter, He clearly answers the question posed by the broken hearted people, ‘Brothers, what must we do?’ with the most thorough response possible. Through Peter, God says, ‘Repent and be baptized’ and then just in case anyone felt exempt from this command, He adds, ‘each of you’, quickly annihilating anyone’s notion that this did not apply to them. Why does God command everyone to repent and be baptized? Again, I can’t imagine how God could be any clearer as He continues through Peter, ‘for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ Notice the specificity of these words. God does not say, ‘for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit’ in general, but instead says, ‘for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’, making it personal and individual for everyone listening. But not only does God make it clear to everyone who was physically present and listening to what Peter said that day that they needed to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins and for them to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, this passage is unique in another way. What God says next through Peter even uniquely and undoubtedly answers the question about how to apply this passage to the lives of those who would live in the years after these events. God continues, ‘For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call’. This establishes that this promise is to everyone, everywhere and at any time after this promise was made. Now obviously, this promise wasn’t for the people before this promise was made, but again, for those after this promise was made. But not only does God make it as clear as He does with the precision of the wording of this passage, God even allows us to the see a real world example of how the 3000 people who were physically present on that day responded to this promise. They all repented and physically got baptized!

Yet, in the face of all of this extreme clarity, 2000 years later most people teach that baptism is important but not essential for salvation, i.e., for the forgiveness of one’s sins and for one to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. In fact, I believe that this is the most important, most widely taught, most damaging and quite frankly most maddening false doctrine that is taught today. It is so widely taught that it is very common for not only many different churches to teach it but it is also common for many well educated scholars and theologians to teach it! For instance, even though the Net Bible ‘is a completely new translation of the Bible with 60,932 translators’ notes [and] was completed by more than 25 scholars – experts in the original biblical languages – who worked directly from the best currently available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts.’ and even though it renders Acts 2:37-41 as:

‘2:37 Now when they heard this, they were acutely distressed and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “What should we do, brothers?” 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 2:39 For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.” 2:40 With many other words he testified and exhorted them saying, “Save yourselves from this perverse generation!” 2:41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added. ‘

…we still shockingly read the following footnotes from The Net Bible concerning this text:

“ExSyn 369-71 discusses at least four other ways of dealing with the passage: (1) The baptism referred to here is physical only, and εἰς has the meaning of “for” or “unto.” Such a view suggests that salvation is based on works – an idea that runs counter to the theology of Acts, namely: (a) repentance often precedes baptism (cf. Acts 3:19; 26:20), and (b) salvation is entirely a gift of God, not procured via water baptism (Acts 10:43 [cf. v. 47]; 13:38-39, 48; 15:11; 16:30-31; 20:21; 26:18); ”

The passage says, ‘Repent and be baptized, each of you, for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’. What is confusing about that? What about the charge that this view suggests that salvation is based on works? First, James 2 says:

James 2:14-26 (HCSB)
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can his faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder. 20 Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? 21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected. 23 So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

So while it is true that we are not saved by the merits of our works, our works are what prove our faith is real, and our real faith is what saves us. So if someone wants to call baptism a work, it is simply a work that proves our faith is real, i.e. that we believe and accept God’s promise, just like the 3000 did on the day of Pentecost.

Secondly, if someone wants to call baptism a work, what makes the other ways people teach that someone becomes a Christian less than a work than baptism? For example, If someone considers baptism a work, shouldn’t that person also consider praying Jesus into one’s heart a work as well? Is praying less than a work than being baptized? I say this to prove the faultiness of the logic behind this flimsy argument.

The one thing I do agree with from this footnote from The Net Bible, however, is that everyone who says that one does not need to get baptized for the forgiveness of their sins and for them to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit has to somehow ‘deal with’, i.e. explain away, Acts 2:36-41 (and many other passages) in order to maintain this view.

Another example of this false teaching is from Billy Graham who states this on his web site:

“Q: Is baptism necessary for salvation? Mr. Graham has stated: “I believe baptism is important, and I have been baptized. But I think we violate the Scriptures when we make baptism the prime requirement for salvation … Paul’s central theme was Christ and His saving power. Although he spoke of baptism, he said: ‘I thank God that I baptized none of you … lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name’ (1 Corinthians 1:14-15).” “Baptism is a conclusive act of obedience and witness to the world that we are Christ’s. I believe in it wholeheartedly. In our crusades we don’t baptize because we feel that this should be done by the local pastors—and that if I baptized, some people would say they had been baptized by me, and that would be putting the emphasis on the wrong person. To one who has received Christ, baptism is a necessary and meaningful experience. But, I must say with Paul: ‘Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel’ (1 Corinthians 1:17).” “You may know that we urge immediate and extensive Bible study for each convert. As the Scripture is reviewed, the place of baptism will surely be discovered. If baptism were a requirement for salvation, we would certainly say that. But you couldn’t support that knowing, for example, that the thief on the cross had no opportunity for baptism or church membership. Yet on his confession, paradise was secured. Jesus said to him, ‘Today shalt thou be with me in paradise’ (Luke 23:43).” ‘

First, here is the first passage Billy refers to:

1 Cor 1:13-17 (HCSB)
13 Is Christ divided? Was it Paul who was crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul’s name? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one can say you had been baptized in my name. 16 I did, in fact, baptize the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t know if I baptized anyone else. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with clever words, so that the cross of Christ will not be emptied [of its effect] .

So in 1 Cor 1:13-17, Paul was addressing divisions in the church. He was not saying that he was glad that he didn’t baptize some of the people in Corinth so that they wouldn’t think that baptism was necessary for salvation, but so that they wouldn’t think that they were baptized into his name. In fact, although many people try to use this passage to prove that baptism is not essential for salvation, the fact that Paul says ‘Or were you baptized in Paul’s name?’ gives even further support that baptism is essential for salvation! How? Well, Paul asked these questions as rhetorical questions, that is, he asked these questions to make a point. In order for the questions he asked to be rhetorical questions, the questions had to have obvious answers, or the points would not be made. So the very question, ‘Or were you baptized in Paul’s name’ shows that Paul understood that his hearers would know that they were actually baptized into the name of Jesus and the only way he could know this is if it was common practice for Christians to be baptized in the name of Jesus. In other words, the thought process of those who heard these questions probably went something like this: ‘Is Christ divided? No way! Was it Paul who was crucified for me? No way, it was Jesus Christ who was crucified for me! Was I baptized in Paul’s name? No way! I was baptized in Jesus’ name.’ So again, the fact that Paul asks the question, ‘Or were you baptized in Paul’s name’ shows that the common practice of Christians was to get baptized in the name of Jesus.

Also, all one has to do to figure out what Paul didn’t mean in this passage is to look at the rest of the New Testament and at everything else Paul did say. The truth of the matter is that Paul absolutely taught that baptism is essential for one to be saved, and just like one would expect, he got baptized himself, to wash his sins away.

So what about the thief on the cross that Billy uses to try to prove his point? The answer to that question is as simple as Billy’s argument is flimsy: The thief lived before the promise was made.

Another example of this false teaching is from The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry that defines itself on its website as:

‘CARM is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its purpose is to equip Christians and refute error. Christianity is under attack everywhere and we need to articulate our faith intelligently and biblically. To this end, CARM offers a concise, comprehensive explanation of the Christian faith along with logical analysis of errors in popular beliefs, both secular and sacred. It is easy to use, written for the layman, and covers a huge range of topics.’

Yet, we read this article from their site:

James 1:19-27 (HCSB)
19 My dearly loved brothers, understand this: everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. 21 Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil excess, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you. 22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror; 24 for he looks at himself, goes away, and right away forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who acts—this person will be blessed in what he does. 26 If anyone thinks he is religious, without controlling his tongue but deceiving his heart, his religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

James 2:14-26 (HCSB)
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can his faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder. 20 Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? 21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected. 23 So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

The above passages makes it clear that if someone says he has faith, but does not have works, his faith cannot save him! Let me say that again: The above passage makes it clear that if someone says he has faith, but not have works, his faith cannot save him! It also says that faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself. and that faith without works is useless! And as if it wasn’t clear enough, the passage continues by saying, and I quote, ‘You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone’ and, ‘For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead’.

What does all of this have to do with the article about baptism? Well, many times having prior knowledge or a preconceived notion about something can be helpful in the pursuit of truth since understanding seems to build on top of other understanding much like bricks are built on top of other bricks to build a tower, for example, but if this prior knowledge or preconceived notion about something is flawed, this knowledge can actually become a blocker of other truths. In the above article, the author seems to have a preconceived notion that there is no place whatsoever for works in the salvation process. After he cites Matthew 28:18-20, for example, which reads:

Matt 28:18-20 (HCSB)
18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

, he comments:

“If baptism is necessary for salvation then it must also be true that teaching disciples to observe all that Jesus commanded is necessary as well. But this would be salvation by works.”

Another example is after he cites, John 3:1-8, which reads:

John 3:1-8 (HCSB)
1 There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Him at night and said, “ Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one could perform these signs You do unless God were with him.” 3 Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”4 “But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

, after he lists 5 possible meanings of this passage and after he mentions the 5th possible meaning, he comments:

“The water refers to the water of baptism as a requirement for salvation. But this would mean we were not justified by faith. It would be adding a ritualistic requirement to salvation.”

Another example is after he sites Acts 2:38, which reads:

Acts 2:38 (HCSB)
38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

, he comments:

“The Oneness argument says that the word “for” means that you are getting baptized in order to receive forgiveness of sins. Again, if this is what is meant, then we are not receiving the forgiveness of sins when we believe, but after we have performed a ritual. There’s no way around this. Is a ritual also required for our salvation? Is there a work we must perform in order to be saved? Biblically, a work is a ritual, a law that must be followed. Circumcision was just such a ritual, a ceremony. Paul condemns the Judaizers for adding that ritual, that ceremony to the grace of God. He condemns them because they added a ceremonial requirement to salvation. This is heresy and Paul rightly condemned it. Baptism is a ritual. It is a ceremony. If it is necessary for salvation, then a ritual must be observed in order to obtain Christ’s forgiveness. This is salvation by grace and ritual, not salvation by grace through faith. Faith occurs when you believe. You are justified by faith when you believe, otherwise you’re not justified by faith. So, this verse cannot mean that we have to be baptized in water in order to have our sins forgiven.

Also, if we are to understand this verse to mean that baptism is necessary for salvation, then we must also understand that repentance is necessary. But this is a problem because it would require that we be good in order to be saved – but this amounts to justification by works. Of course, we are supposed to repent of our sins, but it is not the repentance of sins that brings us salvation; rather, it is salvation that brings us repentance because unbelievers don’t turn from their sins, only believers do only the saved seek to honor God.”

And there are more examples of this in the article but these examples are sufficient to show that the author’s preconceived notion that works have nothing at all to do with the salvation process, prevents him from looking at the plain meaning of the text. The obvious problem is that the passages in James makes it clear that works are involved in the salvation process and that the author’s preconceived notion is flawed at best.

So while the Bible is clear that baptism is essential for salvation, most people teach that baptism is not essential for salvation.

FALSE DOCTRINE: Holy Spirit Not Received At Baptism

FALSE DOCTRINE: Holy Spirit Not Received At Baptism

Hey _____, I am not sure I ever answered your question specifically, sorry about that. You said:

“Chad, explain this. ’12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. 14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.’ They believed and were baptized into Christ but did not receive the Spirit until hands were laid on them. Same thing in Saul/Paul’s conversion.”

Chad’s Response:

  • First, as you would agree, when the book of Acts was written by God through Luke, it did not contain the chapter and verse numbers that we have in our Bibles today. Keep that in mind as we discuss this matter. The book of Acts starts out as follows:

Acts 1 (New American Standard Bible)

1The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. 3To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. 4Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

  • Luke continues a little further in the text of Acts 1…

Acts 1 (New American Standard Bible)

9And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

  • God then chooses Matthias to replace Judas as an apostle.
  • Then we get to what we have labeled as ‘chapter 2’ in our Bible:

Acts 2 (New American Standard Bible)

1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

  • I think you will agree that what is happening here is what Jesus said would happen in verses 4-5 in the last ‘chapter’: ‘wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” The day of Pentecost was clearly when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit.

5Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language…12And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”…14But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them…

  • Peter says many things, but for the sake of this discussion, we will pick up in verse 36…

36″Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39″For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

  • Notice that there were 3000 souls added to their number and there is no mention of anyone laying anyone’s hands on these 3000 souls. In fact, neither in the above text or anywhere else in the entire Bible does God command anyone to have hands laid upon them to be saved or to receive the Spirit or for that matter, for any other reason whatsoever. Yet, we do see the clear commands and promises of God that text:38Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39″For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
  • And although we don’t see any mention of these 3000 people having hands laid upon them, we do see that these 3000 souls were baptized.
  • Luke says a little later in chapter 5…

Acts 5:32 (New American Standard Bible)

32″And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.

  • Again where are we commanded to have someone lay hands on us? So how can we obey something we are not commanded to do? Yet, in Acts 5, verse 32, Luke says clearly, ‘and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him’.
  • In Acts 6, Luke continues…

Acts 6 (New American Standard Bible)

1Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. 2So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. 3″Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. 4″But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. 6And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.

  • Truthfully, chapter 6 really should put an end to this entire discussion. Well, really, Acts 2 should have put an end to this discussion but chapter 6 really should nail the coffin of this issue shut. The apostles say to the people, ‘Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom…’ So one of the qualifications for those to be chosen were that they needed to be what? Full of the Spirit. So in response, they chose Stephen, ‘a man full of faith ***and of the Holy Spirit***, and the others. Now do you disagree that Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit before the apostles laid their hands on him? Now, you may say, ‘We can only assume that they had already had hands laid upon them’. If you are intellectually honest, you should know that that just doesn’t make any sense. You would be saying that one ‘laying on of the hands’ is not enough! And even if you do say that, you still have to admit that there is a ‘laying on of the hands’ that gives the Holy Spirit in a different way than the ‘indwelling way’. Doesn’t it make some much more sense that when one gets baptized, one receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit per “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39″For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” and then the laying on the hands gave people extra miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit for the benefit of others?
  • Then we get to Acts 8, the chapter you refer to in your question:

Acts 8:4-40 (New American Standard Bible)

4Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. 5Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them.

  • So it appears that this is the first time that someone ever proclaimed Christ to the people in the city of Samaria. I think it is important to remember that the Samaritans were considered to be dogs by the Jewish people at this time.

6The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing.

  • Notice that Philip had the ability to perform outward miraculous signs which makes perfect sense in light of the fact that the apostles had previously laid their hands on him.

7For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. 8So there was much rejoicing in that city. 9Now there was a man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; 10and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, “This man is what is called the Great Power of God.” 11And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts. 12But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. 13Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.

  • Here we notice that belief and being baptized were related. ‘Simon himself believed, and after being baptized’. In other words, when someone believed they would get baptized.

14Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, 15who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. 18Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21″You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22″Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. 23″For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.” 24But Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

  • Your implied question, Ben, is, whether or not these newly baptized souls in the city of Samaria had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit before the Holy Spirit had fallen upon them after the laying on of the apostles hands.
  • Here is a question to consider while contemplating this: Why do you think Luke felt the need to explain, ‘they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus’ after he said ‘For He had not yet fallen upon any of them’?
  • In order to understand what is going on in the book of Acts, I think you would agree that you have to look at the entirety of the book. Also, this same ideas applies to the Bible in general. We can’t pick and choose one Scripture over another. Any interpretation we try to apply has to reasonably explain verses that clearly seem to go against whatever interpretation we are examining. In the case of your interpreting the book of Acts to mean that one does not receive the Spirit at baptism but only when someone gets hands laid upon them, has to unreasonably explain away other very important passages (and the clear commands and promises of God) in the same letter. The interpretation that one receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at baptism and people would receive the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit after the laying on of hands is in agreement with all the passages in the book of Acts. Not only this, but this interpretation also fits with the rest of the Bible.
  • Quick note: I have had many debates with many people about many things and one thing that seems to be the case more often than not is that people in a debate usually don’t change their minds about the matter being debated no matter how strong a case the other side makes. So even though, to me, you should agree with me on this, I don’t think you will. I think this debate has a lot more to do with emotions than the facts and having a debate about emotions is obviously futile. So anyway, I don’t expect you to change your mind, I just wanted to answer your question for the sake of others who may be reading this. Thanks for the question.

FALSE DOCTRINE: Just Believe

FALSE DOCTRINE: Just Believe

As of July of 2008, on the first page of the Google results for the query, “How do I become a Christian?” was the following article:

http://www.sbc.net/KnowJesus/theplan.asp

Here is an excerpt from that article:

“Romans 6:23
‘ For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.’

Jesus paid the price for your sin and mine by giving His life on Calvary’s cross. God brought Jesus back from the dead and paved the way for you to have a personal relationship with Him through Jesus. All that’s left for you to do is to accept the gift that Jesus is holding out for you right now.

Romans 10:9-10
‘If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.’

God says that if you believe in His son, Jesus, you can live forever with Him in glory.

John 3:16
‘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.’

Are you ready to accept the gift of eternal life that Jesus is offering you right now? If it is your sincere desire to ask Jesus to come into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior, then talk to God from your heart: Here’s a Suggested Prayer:

‘Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and I do not deserve eternal life. But, I believe You died and rose from the grave to purchase a place in Heaven for me. Jesus, come into my life, take control of my life, forgive my sins and save me. I am now placing my trust in You alone for my salvation and I accept your free gift of eternal life.'”

The first problem with this teaching is that even if we just take the scriptures sited and nothing else, there is nothing in these verses that say anything about saying the ‘suggested prayer’ for salvation, that Jesus is ‘holding out a gift’, that one needs to be ready to accept the gift of eternal life, or about having a ‘sincere desire to ask Jesus to come into one’s heart’. If we were to just use these scriptures and no other scriptures, then all one would have to do is confess, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in one’s heart that God rose Jesus from the dead. That would be it. No other prayer or any other ‘work’ would be required.

Second, let’s look at the context for the Scriptures sited:

Romans 9:30-33 (HCSB)
30 What should we say then? Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained righteousness—namely the righteousness that comes from faith. 31 But Israel, pursuing the law for righteousness, has not achieved the law. 32 Why is that? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written: Look! I am putting a stone in Zion to stumble over, and a rock to trip over, yet the one who believes on Him will not be put to shame.

Romans 10:1-13 (HCSB)
1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God concerning them is for their salvation! 2 I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 Because they disregarded the righteousness from God and attempted to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. 5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is from the law: The one who does these things will live by them. 6 But the righteousness that comes from faith speaks like this: Do not say in your heart, “Who will go up to heaven?” that is, to bring Christ down 7 or, “Who will go down into the abyss?” that is, to bring Christ up from the dead. 8 On the contrary, what does it say? The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. This is the message of faith that we proclaim: 9 if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 Now the Scripture says, No one who believes on Him will be put to shame, 12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

So in context we see that Paul is talking about how Israel rejected God’s righteousness by trying to be justified by the law without faith, but truthfully, looking at the context of this first passage sited by the author of the above mentioned website doesn’t disprove that all one has to do is confess with their mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in their heart that God raised Jesus from the dead in order to be saved.

At this point, I believe it is important to think about how understanding works. Understanding builds upon prior understandings and definitions of words. If any of the prior understanding that our overall understanding is built on is flawed, we can be blinded by our very understanding! This being the case, I believe it is important to examine and recognize our prior understandings in order to make sure our conclusions aren’t also flawed.

1 Thess 5:20-21 (HCSB)
20 Don’t despise prophecies, 21 but test all things. Hold on to what is good.

For me, for example, when I first re-examined the following passage when doing this study:

Romans 10:8-13 (HCSB)
This is the message of faith that we proclaim: 9 if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation.

…and specifically when I saw the text, ‘if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead’, my mind and heart automatically shouted, ‘meaning you confess “Jesus is Lord” before you are baptized and then believe while being baptized’. This may be true or this may not be true but I need to recognize this preconceived notion I have so that I can make sure it is not flawed. This is very difficult to do but I believe that in order to truly look at a passage of scripture with intellectual honesty, we must recognize and test our preconceived notions to make sure we are not blind to the simple truths of the Bible. In other words, we need to make sure we don’t rely on our own understanding over the plain meaning of God’s Word.

Prov 3:5 (HCSB)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding;

I also found my mind immediately saying, ‘but this passage says, ‘you will be saved’, meaning that in the future, if one really believes, then one will repent and get baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and for the gift of the Holy Spirit, and so it is true that one who confesses with their mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believes in one’s heart that God rose Jesus from the dead will be saved.’ The problem with this thought process is that I am not being consistent with this method of interpretation. What I mean is that in Act 2, we read:

Acts 2:38 (HCSB)
38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

So I would not be consistent if in the Roman’s passage I say that, ‘you will be saved’ means that one will be saved in the future after doing something else, while in the Acts 2:38 passage, I say that ‘you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’, means one will get the Holy Spirit right then and there. In truth, interpreting the scriptures in this inconsistent way is doing nothing more than picking and choosing scriptures by applying rules to some scriptures while not applying these same rules to other scriptures.

But what about the context of Romans? Does the fact that Paul is writing to Christians, who were most likely already saved, change the meaning of what Paul was saying in Romans 10:8-10? In other words, was he saying, ‘you Christians will be saved if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God rose Him from the dead’? I don’t think that is the case because in the specific section where Paul says this, he is talking about unsaved people. He is talking about Israel. Also, we know that Paul is not telling the Christians who were in trouble that if they confessed with their mouths, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believed in their hearts that God rose Jesus from the dead that they would be rescued from their current situation (as is sometimes taught) because in verse 10 of Romans 10 it states, ’10 With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation. ‘ which shows that Paul is definitely talking about salvation and not being delivered from some situation.

Again, at this point I believe it is necessary to explain that if we are truly seeking truth from the scriptures, we must strip away ideas that are not sound. Although it is our tendency to explain away passages that don’t fit with our prior overall understanding of the Bible with fine sounding arguments, doing this is building artificial walls of support to bolster our position. I believe that our position should be based on Scriptures and not on faulty arguments used to explain away passages that we don’t seem to fit with our understanding.

So where does that leave us? We have not been able to legitimately explain by just using Romans 10:8-13 why Romans 10:8-13 does not mean that if one confesses with one’s mouth, “Jesus is Lord’ and believes in one’s heart that God rose Jesus from the dead that one will be saved. So in general, at this point in our pursuit for Biblical truth, we can either look for passages that further support the idea that belief is all that is required for salvation or we can look for passages that seem to be contrary to this idea. I believe the many times painful road to intellectual honesty points to us first looking for more passages that support the idea that belief is all that is required for salvation and after doing this, to look for passages that are contrary to this idea.

Mark 1:14-15 (HCSB)
14 After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of God: 15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!”

Luke 8:11-12 (HCSB)
11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 The seeds along the path are those who have heard. Then the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.

John 1:6-13 (HCSB)
6 There was a man named John who was sent from God. 7 He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. 9 The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not recognize Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. 12 But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.

John 3:16-18 (HCSB)
16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.

John 3:36 (HCSB)
36 The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.

John 6:28-29 (HCSB)
28 “What can we do to perform the works of God?” they asked. 29 Jesus replied, “This is the work of God: that you believe in the One He has sent.”

John 8:24 (HCSB)
24 Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am [He] , you will die in your sins.”

John 11:25-26 (HCSB)
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. 26 Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever. Do you believe this?”

John 12:36 (HCSB)
While you have the light, believe in the light so that you may become sons of light.”

John 20:30-31 (HCSB)
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.

Acts 16:29-31 (HCSB)
29 Then the jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he escorted them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

Romans 3:21-31 (HCSB)
21 But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested by the Law and the Prophets 22 —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. 26 He presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith. 28 For we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law. 29 Or is God for Jews only? Is He not also for Gentiles? Yes, for Gentiles too, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then cancel the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Romans 4:11 (HCSB)
11 And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while still uncircumcised. This was to make him the father of all who believe but are not circumcised, so that righteousness may be credited to them also.

Romans 4:22-24 (HCSB)
22 Therefore, it was credited to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was credited to him was not written for Abraham alone, 24 but also for us. It will be credited to us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

1 Cor 1:21 (HCSB)
For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached.

Gal 3:22 (HCSB)
But the Scripture has imprisoned everything under sin’s power, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

1 Tim 1:16 (HCSB)
16 But I received mercy because of this, so that in me, the worst [of them] , Christ Jesus might demonstrate the utmost patience as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

1 Tim 4:10 (HCSB)
10 In fact, we labor and strive for this, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, especially of those who believe.

1 John 3:23-24 (HCSB)
23 Now this is His command: that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as He commanded us. 24 The one who keeps His commands remains in Him, and He in him. And the way we know that He remains in us is from the Spirit He has given us.

1 John 5:12-13 (HCSB)
12 The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

So now that we have listed all of the scriptures that seem to say that all one has to do to be saved is believe in Jesus, in our pursuit of Biblical truth, what are we to do now? Do we just end our study and conclude that all one has to do to be saved is to believe in Jesus?

Matt 4:5-7 (HCSB)
5 Then the Devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He will give His angels orders concerning you and, they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” 7 Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God.”

In the above passage, Satan takes Jesus to Jerusalem, has Him stand at the highest point of the temple and tells Him to jump off reasoning with Him from the scriptures that angels would catch Him. Satan cites the following scripture to support his application:

Psalms 91:11-12 (HCSB)
11 For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways. 12 They will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

So how does Jesus answer Satan’s application of scripture? Does Jesus just say, ‘That is what that one scripture says so it must be true.’? No, instead Jesus says, ‘It is also written: Do not test the Lord you God’, citing Deuteronomy 6:16. In essence, Jesus tested the validity of Satan’s application of scripture with other scriptures and concluded that Satan’s application violated other scriptures making it a faulty application. Since this is the way that Jesus, the author of the scriptures, tested applications of scriptures, we are walking on solid ground if we imitate Jesus in this regard.

So if we apply this principal to the application of the scriptures that claims that all one has to do to be saved is to believe in Jesus, what do we find? Just like how Jesus tested the validity of Satan’s application of scripture with other scriptures, let’s see if there are scriptures that the ‘belief only’ application violate:

First, are there any scriptures that directly speak against the application of scripture that says all one has to do is believe in Jesus and one will be saved?

James 2:14-26 (HCSB)
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can his faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder. 20 Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? 21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected. 23 So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

So in our quest for truth that requires intellectually honesty, in light of all of the belief passages and in light of James 2:14-26 above, what are we to do and what are we to conclude? I can only think of a few options that we have at this point:

1. We can ignore James 2:14-26 completely deciding that it is completely contradictory to what we believe the rest of the Bible says. (This is exactly what Martin Luther did in the 1500’s. He removed the book of James from the Bible calling in uninspired).
2. We can somehow explain that it does not mean what it clearly says.
3. We can take it along with the lump sum of all of the other scriptures to derive truth.

It seems clear that if we believe the entire original Bible was inspired by God that number 3 is the only choice that makes any sense.

Also, why can’t we use James 2:14-26 to refute the application that all one has to do is believe, the way that Jesus used Deuteronomy 6:16 to refute Satan’s application that Jesus should throw Himself down from the temple because the angels would catch him?

Second, are there scriptures that indicate that there is something else to do other than just believe in Jesus to be saved?

Acts 2:37-40 (HCSB)
37 When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?” 38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” 40 And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, “Be saved from this corrupt generation!”

Acts 22:16 (HCSB)
16 And now, why delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins by calling on His name.’

Romans 6:3-5 (HCSB)
3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection.

Gal 3:27-28 (HCSB)
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 3:21 (HCSB)
21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So again, since we have all of these belief passages and baptism passages, we can either pick one side or the other and then ignore or explain away the passages that support the other side, or we can take all of the scriptures together to derive truth. If we do the former we either derive that one is saved when they believe or that one is saved when they repent and are baptized. If we do the latter, we can derive that one is saved both when one believes and when one repents and is baptized. This derived truth takes all of the scriptures into account without ignoring or explaining away scriptures.

Now that we have derived a basic truth from the lump sum of all the scriptures, we would be wise to test our thesis by looking for scriptures that seem to support this view. Are there any scriptures that support that one is saved both when they believe and when they repent and are baptized?

Col 2:12-15 (HCSB)
Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses. 14 He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; He triumphed over them by Him.

This scriptures ties it all together perfectly, not ignoring or explaining away any passages of scripture.

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