Archive for faith

Jude and Eternal Security

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Eternal Security, Perseverance of the Saints, Religion, Salvation, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Jude is a very short epistle, in some Bibles only occupying the space of a single page. But it is a powerful epistle, and filled with poetic analogies. In this epistle, Jude (or Judas), brother of James, writes to the church warning them about false teachers.

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. — Jude 3

By reading this verse, we know Jude was writing to people who were saved and were active in the body of Christ. This is important to remember as we continue to read. In a previous post, I pointed out the fallacy of “Once Saved Always Saved” — also known as “Perseverance of the Saints” or “Frozen Chosen”. In this post, I am about prove that, if Christians cannot lose their salvation through willful sin or being led astray by false doctrine, then the book of Jude would never have been written.

Jude continues to mention “certain persons” who had “crept in unnoticed” — he doesn’t mention names, but does make it clear that they are present and perverting the Word under the Body’s very nose. He then goes on to say something interesting:

Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as those indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. — Jude 5-7

The reference to the people saved out of Egypt is, of course, the children of Israel. We know that, once in the wilderness, the Hebrews rebelled more than once, finally culminating in refusal to enter the Land of Canaan. Out of all the adults who had left Egypt on this exodus, only Joshua and Caleb believed God would keep His promise and give them the land, despite the intimidating giants and their cities (Numbers 14:1-10). God condemned them to another forty years of wandering in the wilderness until all of them aged twenty years or older at the time of their rebellion had died (Numbers 14:27-35). Not long afterward, during the wandering, Korah started a mutiny against Moses and Aaron, only to be destroyed, he and his followers, when God opened the earth, which swallowed and destroyed them (Numbers 16).In fact, Jude later refers to Korah’s destruction in Jude 11.

The Bible refers to Christians as God’s new chosen people (I Peter 2:9). In an earlier post, I pointed out how Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea was a type, or foreshadowing, of Christian baptism and salvation. If those of Israel who rebelled against God never got to enter the Promised Land, and Jude used these rebels as a warning to those of the church, then we can conclude that Christians who turn away from God’s true doctrine and follow after falsehood are in effect rebelling against God and will not see the eternal reward of salvation. If that is not the case, then Jude was using an inaccurate comparison.

Jude then goes on to use the instance of the fallen angels, whom God at this moment has locked up until the day of judgment, and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. In each case, he is referring to those who turned away from God and brought punishment down on themselves. He is using these examples as warnings to the Christians to whom he addresses this epistle. Again, if Christians cannot lose their salvation and bring condemnation upon themselves, these examples would be inaccurate. But this is the Word of God. God never uses inaccurate comparisons.

Jude spends a large portion of the epistle describing the false teachers and their fate. “They have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.” (Jude 11) Remember that not only did Korah perish, but also those who followed him. The same can be said of those who were followers of Christ, but are led astray by false teachers. Both the leaders and those they lead will meet with the same fate.

Jude ends his epistle with this admonishment:

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. — Jude 20-21

The core statement of this sentence is, “Keep yourselves in the love of God”. It is up to us to remain in God’s love. In fact, Christ himself said,

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love — John 15:10

This was said shortly after He warned,

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. — John 15:6

The word “abide” is translated from the Greek meno, which means “remain, tarry, not to depart”. It is a command to Christians to remain in Christ’s love, or else we will meet with the same fate as Korah or the fallen angels or Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus said in John 15:6 that the branches that wither and dry up are cast away and burned. It is because of His love, His desire that we be saved, that He commands us through Jude to keep ourselves in the love of God by building our faith and praying to God.

Christ gave us the gift of salvation. It is up to us to keep it or throw it away.

This is the whole point of the epistle of Jude: To not listen to false teachers and perverters of the Word and be led astray to destruction by their falsehoods.

Baptism & Paul’s Salvation

Posted in Baptism, Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Salvation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Saul was a Jewish fanatic (Galatians 1:13-14), a Pharisee’s Pharisee — as he described himself, “circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.” (Philippians 3:5-6) If you or I were to encounter him during his heyday as a Pharisee zealot, we might have declared him hopeless. And yet, as we see in the following account, his heart changed in a moment, and he later became Paul, perhaps the greatest apostle in the propagation of Jesus’ Kingdom. We read of his conversion twice in the book of Acts — first in Acts 9 in Luke’s narrative, and then in Acts 22 when Paul himself is telling his story to a hostile mob in Jerusalem. His story goes into the details of his conversion, from the first moment of belief to his baptism. Here we can find what significance baptism held in his salvation.

Act 9:3 -5 — As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting . . .”

Act 22:6 -8 — “But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’

At noon, the light shone around him. Noon is the brightest time of day, yet a “very bright light” — bright enough to be distinguished at midday — stopped Saul in his tracks. He fell to the ground, either stunned and blinded by the brilliance, or overcome with astonishment and reverence, or both. From apparently nowhere a voice demanded why he persecuted “Me”. Since Saul was actively persecuting followers of Jesus, and on his way to Damascus to throw Christians into prison, he would instantly know that he was talking to none other than Jesus Himself. Saul asks the identity of the voice, even adding the title of “Lord” — in the Greek, kyrios, which is defined in Strong’s Concordance as “a title of honor expressive of respect and reverence, with which servants greet their master”. To which the voice replies, “I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.”

If anything would convince anyone, this incident most definitely would convince Saul. Instantly, the realization that his Pharisaical radicalism is displeasing to God sinks in. He has been working against God, and been solidly convicted! At this point, Saul undoubtedly believes. If belief is all it takes to be saved, he should be saved and rejoicing at this very moment.

Act 22:10 — “And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.’ ”

Act 9:6 — “. . . but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”

“What shall I do, Lord?” Saul does not deny that Jesus is who he claims. No doubt all his persecuting and the import of this past actions have come crashing down and he realizes how far he has fallen, that he is not only guilty of sin but also of scourging the body of Christ. He is doomed to damnation, and he wants to know what to do. This echoes the question asked by the multitude in Acts 2:27 — “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter told the multitude, “repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:28). Jesus tells Saul, “Get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” The answer has yet to be given to Saul. Keep this in mind as we continue reading.

Saul believes. Is he saved at this point? Let’s read on.

Act 22:11-16 — “But since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus. A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing near said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very time I looked up at him. And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’ ”

Act 9:17-18 — So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized . . .

Saul, completely blind, is led by the hand, stumbling, feeling his way into Damascus. Instead of entering the city to kill Christians, as was his original plan, he enters blind and helpless, waiting for help from the very people whom he sought to destroy.

After arriving, Saul remained praying for three days. There is no doubt he believed. Still burdened by his persecution of the church, he spent those three days of prayer begging God to spare him his due judgment, to give him a second chance. Imagine the terror, the horror, the guilt! Ananias comes to Saul and upon bidding him to receive his sight, watches “something like scales” fall from Saul’s eyes.

Then, after stating the mission God has laid out for Saul, Ananias finally tells Saul what he must do, as Jesus predicted. “Why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”

Obviously, though Saul has believed and been praying fervently for three days, Saul’s sins have not yet been washed away. There was something to be done. Ananias said, “Get up and be baptized.” Saul has most definitely believed, and has been praying for three days. If all one must do is believe in Jesus and pray for salvation, then Saul would not be in need of his sins being washed away — if it is true, he is already cleansed, saved! But Ananias tells him to “be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” Going back to Acts 2, this echoes Peter’s command to the multitude to “be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.”

Saul did not “pray the prayer” to be saved. He did not just believe to be saved. He was leaving out the thing God told him “he must do”, through the mouth of Ananias: “GET UP AND BE BAPTIZED, AND WASH AWAY YOUR SINS!”

Saul himself (then Paul) later referred to this washing as “the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:26) and “the washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5). The writer of Hebrews (presumed to be Paul) says, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” — Hebrews 10:22. Peter likened it to a washing or cleansing in I Peter 3:21.

After reading this there is no doubt that Paul was baptized for the remission of sins, just as the multitude of three thousand on the day of Pentacost.

The Thief On The Cross

Posted in Baptism, Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Salvation with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Faith-only proponents hold up the example of the thief who was crucified alongside Jesus. Christ not only forgave him, but also made a promise:

And Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” — Luke 24:43

The thief was not baptized, and yet Jesus took him into His kingdom – gave him forgiveness and salvation. Why?

Quite simply, it’s because baptism had not yet been instituted as the means to enter the kingdom. One could not be baptized into Christ’s death because Christ had not yet died. Baptism into the body of Christ was part of Christ’s last will and testament, which did not take effect until Jesus died.

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. — Hebrews 9:13-17

As God, Jesus has the power to forgive sins. While He walked the earth, He forgave sins even if those people had not been baptized, because, as stated above, His death had not yet come to pass to bring the testament into effect.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?” And immediately when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, He said unto them, “Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee’; or to say, ‘Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk’? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins” (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) “I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.” And immediately he arose, and took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were amazed, and glorified God, saying, “We never saw it in this fashion.” — Mark 2:5-12

Infant Baptism

Posted in Baptism, Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Salvation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Many denominations practice infant baptism, also known as “christening” among such circles as the Catholic and Lutheran churches. By taking their baby to a baptism ceremony and having a member of the clergy sprinkle water on the child’s head, many parents believe that they are saving their baby’s soul — that it is automatically going to heaven no matter when it dies.

This practice has absolutely no basis in scripture. Philip told the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, “If you believe with all your heart, you may [be baptized].” To which the eunuch replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Only then did Philip baptize him.

Notice that Philip was very clear that he would only baptize the eunuch once he confessed his belief in Jesus. An infant has no knowledge of Jesus, and thus cannot believe in something it does not know exists, let alone confess that belief. Jesus says in Mark 16:16, “He who has believed and been baptized shall be saved.” He does not say, “He who has been baptized shall be saved.” He says, “He who has believed AND been baptized shall be saved.”

In Acts 2:38, when the multitude asks what they must do, Peter tells them to repent and be baptized. He makes it clear that, along with belief (faith), one must repent. What sins has in infant committed of which to repent? None! The child hasn’t figured out how to talk or even mastered half of its motor skills. All it can do is lie there and cry for mama. At what point has that child sinned?

Some use the case of the Philippian jailer to justify infant baptism, quoting Acts 16:31-33:

They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he [the jailer] took them that very night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.

“See?” some say. “It says, ‘he and all his household’. You can’t tell me there weren’t infants in the jailer’s household.”

Can’t I? Well, first, there is no Scriptural indication that there WERE infants in the jailer’s household, so it is a huge assumption, not to mention adding to God’s Word, to say there were. Second, Paul told the jailer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Later, it says the jailer was baptized, “he and all his household.” So if he and all his household believed AND were baptized (and we consider that Philip would not have baptized the eunuch if he had not believed), that does seem to rule out infants, since, as stated before, infants are incapable of believing in something they do not know exist.

The clincher rests in verse 34, which states, And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household. After reading this, there is no way to prove that the phrase “his whole household” included infants — because INFANTS CANNOT BELIEVE IN SOMETHING THEY DO NOT KNOW EXISTS!

I Peter 3:21 adds to this:

The like figure whereunto [the flood] even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ . . . (KJV)

If baptism saves us as the answer of a good conscience toward God, then how can baptism save an infant? Can baptism be the infant’s answer of a good conscience toward God? Of course not! All the infant is probably thinking while getting its head wet is how hungry it is at the moment.

Yes, Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 18:16) He is not saying anywhere that children should be baptized. He also is not saying that they need salvation. As a matter of fact, He is making specific mention of their innocence: “The kingdom of heaven belongs to SUCH AS THESE.” The kingdom of heaven belongs to those with the purity and innocence of little children. He even continues to say (verse 17), “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” If children are in need of baptism and salvation, He would not have told adults to be like children to enter the kingdom of God. It would have been a poor analogy at best.

The concept of infant baptism rests on shaky ground. A casual, objective study of Scripture can prove this beyond refutation. It is nothing more than a tradition of men, a rite invented and carried on by human beings, with no sanction whatsoever from God.

%d bloggers like this: