Archive for August, 2007

Answering Common Sense Questions – #9

August 29, 2007

In the past several blogs I have dealt with a series of questions posed by Mr. David Martin of the Solid Rock Baptist Church that he claims members of the churches of Christ are unable to answer.  The article containing these questions is entitled “Common Sense Questions A Church Of Christ Preacher Cannot Clearly Answer”.  Unfortunately few of the questions have displayed much if any common sense in the asking and have been easily to clearly answer.  This weeks question is no different.  Question number nine on Mr. Martin’s list is:

Why does the “Church of Christ” insist that their name is scriptural when it cannot be found anywhere in the Bible? The church is referred to as the “church of God” eight (8) times in the Bible, but never is it called the “church of Christ.” The verse they use is Romans 16:16, but it doesn’t say “church of Christ.” Where does the Bible call the church the “church of Christ”?

The first thing that leaps out at me from this question is that obviously Mr. Martin must have failed English in school since he doesn’t recognize a plural when he sees one.  The passage he refers to is:

Romans 16:16  Salute one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.

Now it seems obvious to me, and I am sure it seems obvious to anyone with a shred of common sense, that if there are “churches” of Christ plural, referring to multiple congregations,  that there must be a “church of Christ” singular, referring to an individual congregation.  So church of Christ is indeed a scriptural designation for the church.

In truth the church of Christ does not have a name per se just as the first century church did not have a particular name.  Rather it was known descriptively as the church of Christ, as shown above, or as the church of God. Other “names” used were church of the firstborn (Hebrews 12:23) or the church of the Ephesus, or other place the congregation was located (Revelation 2-3).  So the first century church was designated by its ownership.  Since the church belongs to Christ, who is God, it was called the church of, or belonging to, Christ or the church of, or belonging to, God. No where in scripture will you find the church given a name describing a particular doctrine or practice, such as Baptist or Methodist. No where in scripture do you find the church identified by a name describing a particular organizational structure, such as Presbyterian. No where in scripture do you find the church indentified by the name of the man, such as Lutheran, and in fact such was condemned by the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 1:12-13).

Also it must be noted that simply bearing the name “church of Christ”, “church of God”, or any other Biblical designation for the church does not in and of itself determine whether or not that church truly is what they claim to be.  However,  a church  that is called by a Biblical name, practices Biblical worship, and teaches Biblical doctrine would be Christ’s church.

Answering Common Sense Questions – #7 and #8

August 21, 2007

In this weeks blog I will be examining yet another question from the article “Common Sense Questions A Church Of Christ Preacher Cannot Clearly Answer” posted on the website of the Solid Rock Baptist Church by Mr. David Martin.  The questions this week are:

#7 – After becoming a Christian, are there any sins that will put me beyond the “point of no return” so that I cannot regain salvation? What sin or sins will put me in such jeopardy, so that, after becoming a Christian, I would be doomed to hell without any recourse? Please be specific and give me clear Bible references.

#8 – If I committed some sin -whether in thought, word, or deed, one minute before a fatal car crash – would I go to hell if I did not have time to repent of it? And, please, don’t just say that it’s up to God without giving me a specific Bible reference.

You are probably thinking to yourself about now that many of these questions seem redundant as Mr. Martin has simply reworded portions of questions four, five and six and asked again.  Since questions seven and eight simply continue the same line of reasoning I will answer them both in a single blog. 

As  stated in my blogs on the previous questions there is no single sin that immediately results in the loss of ones salvation.  The loss of salvation is the result of continuous behavior that is contrary to God’s word.  The Bible is clear that as long as one is “walking in the light” or “walking after the spirit” that his sins are continuously cleansed and he recieves no condemnation (Romans 8:1, 1 John 1:7).  Thus it is a way of living that results in the loss of salvation not a single action.

Thus in answer to question #8 the answer would be that if you are a Christian and are truly living a Christian life and commit some sin just before a fatal car crash before having a chance to repent then you would not go to hell as that sin would be instantly cleansed by the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7). 

Answering Common Sense Questions – #6

August 13, 2007

The next question asked by Mr. David Martin of the Solid Rock Baptist church in his article “Common Sense Questions a Church of Christ Preacher Cannot Answer” is:

If as a Christian I can fall and “lose my salvation,” is it possible to regain it? If so, how? If God “takes away” my salvation, doesn’t that make Him an “Indian giver”? How could I ever know for sure that I was saved or lost?

Yes, if your salvation is lost it is possible to regain it and there is a biblical example.  First we need to realize what it means to lose ones salvation.  Peter describes it as becoming once again entangled in, overcome by, and enslaved by sin after we had been cleansed (2 Peter 2:19-20). Jesus said that you cannot server to masters (Matthew 6:24), thus one cannot be enslaved by sin and yet still be a servant of Christ.  Paul also expressed this same thought that who we serve is to who we belong, whether sin or Christ, and characterizes salvation as a state of freedom from sin (Romans 6:17-18).  Thus to lose ones salvation means to return to a state of bondage to sin thus becoming free from Christ.

Given that can we find an example of someone who was saved who later returned to bondage in sin?  If so what were they commanded to do to return to a state of freedom from sin?  Well the Bible does give us such an example in the account of Simon the sorcerer.  Simon was a magician who decieved the people into believing that he had the power of God (Acts 8:9-10).  When Philip came through performing true miracles even Simon believed him and was baptized (Acts 8:13).  We know that Simon was saved because the inspired narrative tells us that Simon believed and second because he was baptized. Whether or not you believe that baptism is necessary to salvation that Philip, filled with the Holy Spirit, allowed him to be baptized indicates that Philip also accepted his faith as genuine.  Thus at this piont Simon was free from the bondage of sin.  Then Peter and John came down to lay hands on the people and impart the gifts of the Spirit (Acts 8:14-15).  Simon then approached them and offered to pay them money so that he could perform this laying on of hands to which Peter told him that he was in bondage to iniquity (Acts 8:19-23).  So here we have an example of one who had been freed but had relapsed and was once again in bondage to sin.  So what did Peter tell him to do and what example do we have of him doing to return to a state of freedom.  Peter commanded him to repent, to turn away from sin, and pray to God that he would be forgiven (Acts 8:22) and Simon requested that they pray with him and for him as well (Acts 8:24). This is how we can return to a state of salvation if we have turned from the way of truth.  We must repent and pray to God or forgiveness. Remember that repentance involves more than just remorse but is a change of action. Thus we must return to walking in the light and pray to God that he will forgive us.  It is also appropriate for us to ask our brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for us.

The next part of Mr. Martin’s question is whether or not God is an “Indian giver” if he takes away salvation.  Here, once again, Mr. Martin strays from common sense.  Most of us who are parents realize that we do this from time to time.  For example, my teenage son was given a car for his 16th birthday with the condition that if he engaged in certain negative behavior while driving, such as racing, that the car would be taken away and sold.  Does that condition make the car less of a gift? Not at all.  If my son were to be caught drag racing and we took the car back and sold it would that make my wife and I “Indian givers”? Of course not, he knew the rules and broke them and thus we would be justified to take the car. God like any parent has rules that he expects to be obeyed and is justified in taking away the privilege of salvation if we refuse to follow his rules. 

Finally Mr. Martin asks how we can be sure of our salvation and I believe that I have sufficiently answered that in the previous two articles that dealt with his questions on the loss of salvation.

Answering Common Sense Questions – #5

August 10, 2007

This week I will be continuing to answer the questions posed by David Martin at the Solid Rock Baptist Church webite in his column “Common Sense Questions A Church of Christ Preacher Cannot Clearly Answer”.  The fifth question on Mr. Martins list is the following:

If as a Christian I can sin so as to “lose my salvation,” just what sin or sins will place me in such danger? Is it possible to know at what point one has committed such a sin, and become lost again? Please be specific and give clear Bible references.

Unlike the previous question which was of a similar nature (see Answers To Common Sense Questions – Part 4) this is indeed an important question that actually needs to be asked.  If salvation can be lost but we don’t know what can cause one to lose it then we could never be sure if we were saved. 

The Bible is clear that God wants us to know that we are saved (1 John 5:13, 2 Peter 1:10). Paul urged the Corinthian brethren to examine and test themselves to determine whether or not they were truly in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).  So there is no doubt that we can examine our lives and determine whether or not we are indeed saved.  So if salvation can be lost how can I know that I haven’t done something to lose it?

As noted in the previous blog there is no single sin that results in the immediate loss of salvation.  We are told that if we are walking in the light the blood of Christ continually removes our sins (1 John 1:7).  This tells us first that we will not live perfectly after salvation otherwise we would not need this promise. Second it tells us that while we are “walking in the light”, whatever that involves, that the sins we commit are continually removed by the blood of Christ.  Paul in a similar statement tells us that there is no condemnation of those that are “walking in the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).

So how do we tell if we are indeed walking in the light?  Well the Bible does give us the tools we need to make that determination though if we are intellectually honest I think that we would admit that we know.  Imagine if you had just driven home on a rainy day and you are walking along the sidewalk up to your house, stumble and end up stepping into a mud puddle.  If someone saw your muddy feet asked if you had been walking in the mud would you tell them that you didn’t know for sure?  I feel that we also know whether or not we have been walking in the light or after the Spirit.  However, we do still want to go to the Bible and see what God has given us regarding this.

Christ taught his disciples that the type of fruit produced in our lives is an indication of whether we belong to God or not (Matthew 7:16-20).  Paul said that if we are walking in the light we are going to be producing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Ephesians 5:8-9).  In his writings to the Galatian brethren he taught more about walking in the Spirit and gave us great detail about what is a work of the flesh and what are the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26).  When we examine our lives which list does the fruit fall in, the works of the flesh or fruits of the Spirit?

To summarize, we do not need to worry that if we slip up and commit a sin that we have lost our salvation. However, we should continually be developing the fruits of the Spirit and in so doing we make our salvation sure. Each of us is responsible for examining and testing ourselves to see that we are indeed doing these things (Ephesians 5:10).

Answering Common Sense Questions – #4

August 3, 2007

Over the past several articles I have been answering questions posted by Mr. David Martin on the Solid Rock Baptist Church website.  Mr. Martin claims that these are “common sense” questions that cannot be answered clearly by a member of the churches of Christ.  In this blog I want to look at the fourth question given by Mr. Martin.

If my past sins are forgiven when I am baptized in water, and it is possible for me to “lose my salvation” and go to hell after being baptized, then wouldn’t my best chance of going to heaven be to drown in the baptistry?!! – before I had a chance to sin so as to be lost again? If I wanted to be absolutely sure of heaven, isn’t that my best opportunity?

Once again Mr. Martin’s question does not display much common sense in spite of the title of the article in which he poses it.  Let us think through this question logically and see how it holds up.  If Christ were to come down to earth today and tell you flat out that baptism is necessary for salvation and further tell you flat out that your salvation can be lost, would the fact that your best chance to avoid hell would be to drown after baptism, if that were true, invalidate Christ’s words?  Of course not, and neither would that fact, if it were true, invalidate the commands of Christ through his apostles in the Bible.

The Bible repeatedly establishes the necessity of baptism (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Romans 6:3-7, 1 Peter 3:21).  The Bible also repeatedly warns that one may lose their salvation (Galatians 5:4, 2 Peter 1:10, 2 Peter 2:20-22, 2 Peter 3:17, Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews 10:26, ).  So even if your best chance to reach heaven is to drown in the baptistry this does not invalidate the clear word of God.

However, let us also look at the claim that if baptism is necessary and salvation can be lost our best chance for heaven is to die immediately after baptism.  This claim demonstrates a lack of understanding about what the Bible teaches about the loss of salvation.  The claim assumes that after you have been saved when you commit a sin your salvation is lost, however, this is not what the Bible teaches.  The Bible teaches that as long as we are walking, i.e. living or following, in the light that the blood of Christ continually cleanses us of any sins that we commit (1 John 1:6-7).  It also teaches that so long as we are walking, i.e. living or following, according to the Spirit and not the flesh that we are not under condemnation (Romans 8:1). The first thing that we notice in both of these passages is that they involve the continual act of “walking”. We must be living and behaving a certain way in order to be free from condemnation and recieve the continual cleansing of the blood of Christ.

So what does walking in the light or according the Spirit involve and how do we know if we are walking in the light/Spirt or darkness/flesh? Well first we must note that this walking in the light does NOT mean living perfectly without ever committing a sin. If that were the case then the very sin that you need cleansed would disqualify you from recieving that cleansing.  So walking in the light or Spirit does not involve living an absolutely sinful life.  Luckily God has told us in his word what it means to walk in the light.  In order to walk in the light we must be developing the fruits of the Spirit such as goodness, righteousness and truth (Ephesians 5:9).  We must also test ourselves that we are behaving in a way that is acceptable to the Lord (Ephesian 5:10).  We must avoid fellowship with those living unrighteously and reprove their actions (Ephesians 5:11-12).  We must behave wisely and soberly (Ephesians 5:13-15, 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8). Walking in the light also means loving our fellow man (1 John 2:10).   Peter sums this all up quite nicely by telling us to continually grow in faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity (2 Peter 1:5-7). He says that if we do this we will not be unfruitful in Christ and we will not fall (2 Peter 1:8-10). 

So we see that the loss of our salvation does not involve a single sin that we commit but continual spiritual neglect, lack of growth in Christ, and unfruitfulness.  So if we are following the instruction of Peter and the other apostles and constantly examining ourselves and growing in Christ we will have no more chance of losing our salvation fifty years from our baptism into Christ than we did immediately following it.