"I Believe The Bible"
by Kenneth E. Thomas
August 20, 2000
Introduction: It isn't our purpose in this lesson to go into detail as to why we believe the Bible (although that always makes for a fun lesson to preach and an interesting one to which one may listen) but rather our aim is to consider with you what we believe must of necessity be the attitude of any who lay claim to believing the bible to be God's inspired, inerrant, infallible word as it claims to be.
"I Believe The Bible:" Consequently everything I read in the Bible I consider it as what God has spoken or caused to be written and desires for me to know, to believe, to rightly divide, and to put into practice in my life (John 12:48; John16:12-13; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Galatians 1:6-11; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 3:1-4; 2 Timothy 2:15).
"I Believe The Bible:" Consequently everything in which I engage as I strive to serve the Lord who gave us this word, I must study its contents to be sure such activities are authorized in His word. Whether I am considering "What must one do to be saved from alien sins," "What constitutes acceptable worship," "How to conduct myself at all times as a Christian," or "What is the work of local churches of Christ," or any other Biblically related topic (Colossians 3:17; 2 John 9-11; 1 Timothy 3:14-15; Galatians 5:16-21; Galatians 1:6-9).
"I Believe The Bible:" Consequently when I hear someone speak on spiritual matters, I must judge their every word in the light of what the Bible says. If something is taught contrary to its sacred contents, I immediately consider such a one to be propagating soul damning religious error to which I cannot subscribe (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Romans 16:16-18; 2 John 9-11; Galatians 1:8-9).
"I Believe The Bible:" Consequently I do not believe it is a book that promotes religious division and contradictory ideas or doctrinal positions. Therefore when I see over 1400 religious denominations teaching as many peculiar and divisive doctrines, I must conclude that some or perhaps all of them are in error, since "God is not the author of confusion.." (1 Corinthians 14:33; John 17:17-21; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:1-6; 2 Timothy 4:1-8).
"I Believe The Bible:" Consequently when I preach and teach without addition or subtraction, when I "rightly divide the word of truth" as commanded in 2 Timothy 2:15, and preach without addition or subtraction that for which I can give book, chapter, and verse, (1 Peter 4:11), I consider any and all who reject what I preach to be rejecting the instructions of the Lord Jesus Christ as given through His apostles and giving up their only hope for salvation from alien sins or an entrance into heaven at last. Why? Because truth must be believed and truth must be obeyed, and truth must be walked in for one to please our Lord Jesus to whom "all power on earth and in heaven was given" (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18; Colossians 3:17; 2 John 9-10; 1 Timothy 4:15; Acts 13:45-46; John 8:31-32; 1 Peter 1:22-25; Romans 1:16-17; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9; James 1:18, 21-25; 2 John 4).
"I Believe The Bible:" Consequently as Christ's word guides me, I speak out boldly and confidently yet in love, to rebuke all who reject or trifle with the contents of Christ's holy word, those who oppose its divine commandments for humanity: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it is the righteousness of God revealed from faith unto faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Ephesians 4:15).
"I Believe The Bible:" Consequently as we progress through this lesson and speak of a subject upon which there is much disagreement among professed believers, you would do well to judge what I shall say if you too believe the Bible so we may come to a common understanding of what this book teaches on those topics, and so your faith may stand upon the word of God and not upon the wisdom of men as Paul states in (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).
So, with this preface, let us go back to the Bible and see what the Lord's will is on a variety of topics. You see that which causes different beliefs is when various preachers preach different things on the same subject. The seed of the kingdom said Christ is "the word of God" (Luke 8:11). Seed always reproduces only "after its kind" in both the physical and spiritual kingdoms (Genesis 1:11; Galatians 6:7). Therefore if a seed is planted or a doctrine taught is the pure teachings of the will of Christ, all fruit will be identical. If everyone were teaching what was taught in the first century by inspired men, we would all be simply and only Christians united upon the apostle's word in the one spiritual body of Christ, His blood bought church (Acts 2:22-38, 40-41, 47; John 17:20-21; Acts 2:42; Acts 15:24; Ephesians 2:13-17; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 4:1-6; Ephesians 5:22-27; Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16; Acts 26:28; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:1-6).
Once Jesus taught a parable that explains the situation now existing and why. It is called "the parable of the wheat and tares" found in (Matthew 13:24-30).
V:24 "Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field;
It seems evident from just a casual reading of this parable that hearing and believing a lie will cause one to be a tare or weed rather than wheat. Let us allow the Master teacher to tell us exactly what he meant by this parable in His own words.
V-36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field."
In a similar statement when speaking of those who bind human opinions and traditions as if they were the will of God, having taught very pointedly and plainly concerning such as being "vain worship," Jesus' disciples said to Him, "Do you not know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" "But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father hath not planted will be uprooted" (Matthew 15:1-13). As an old black preacher I used to know once said to his audience, "If you are in a plant not planted by the heavenly Father, you had better get out, for rootin time's a comin." He was exactly right! When Christ returns it will be to "receive His chaste virgin bride unto Himself" and any who are not a part of that bride or who have a wrinkle or spot will not be received unto Him nor delivered to the Father (Ephesians 5:22-37; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
"Children of God" safe? or "Children of Satan" lost?
"I Believe The Bible:" Therefore I accept what it teaches about "our nature at birth." Many errors have arisen on the religious scene due to a misunderstanding or a rejection of what the Bible teaches about our very nature. The Bible in which I believe teaches that everyone is born innocent or safe in God's eyes (Ezekiel 18:20; Matthew 18:3; 19:14; 1 John 3:4; James 1:13-15). We are referred to as "the offspring of God" in (Acts 17:29). God is also called "the Father of our spirits" (Hebrews 12:9). After looking at what uninspired men have written about our nature at birth, we will draw some inescapable conclusions from both Scripture and logic.
Those who teach that we are "born children of the devil" are just wrong about this matter, as wrong as wrong can possibly be! How can I be so sure? Because God never contradicts Himself. The Scriptures teach that it is "impossible for God to lie." They also teach that "God is not the author of confusion but of peace..." (Titus 1:2; 1 Corinthians 14:33). These two opposing views cannot both be taught in the word of God when properly understood and rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Peter 3:16; Matthew 22:29).
Many religious people (churches) teach the doctrine of "original sin" also known as "inherited sin" as opposed to sins committed by those who have volition. These include the Roman Catholics-Lutherans-Presbyterians-Southern Baptist & Northern Baptist just to name a few. The Free Will Baptist reject the doctrine as do the Methodist and a few others including this author, as you already know from what I have written thus far. Because "We Believe The Bible," we reject what some authors of uninspired Creeds, Manuals, & Articles of faith have to say about an infant's status before God at birth.
("Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian church of the United States Revised in 1963 Chapter VI."
"Of the fall of man and of sin, and of the punishment thereof Pgs. 41-43)."
"Our first parents, being seduced by the subtility and temptation of Satan, sinned in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory. II. By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body. III. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation. IV. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions. V. This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated: and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly properly sin."
(Dr. Martin Luther's Small Catechism Concordia Publishing House St. Louis, Mo., 1943 page 87-88).
"What is original sin? Original sin (inherited sin) is the total corruption of our whole nature." 95. "How may this inherited corruption be more fully described?" "Man by nature is without true fear, love, and trust in God. He is without righteousness, is inclined only to evil and is spiritually blind, dead, and an enemy of God." 96. "In what condition is man by nature on account of original sin?" "On account of original sin, man is by nature lost and condemned, ruined in body and soul."
(The Standard Manual For Baptist Churches by Edward T. Hiscox, D.D. page 60. Entered, according to an Act of Congress, in the year 1890, by THE AMERICAN BAPTIST PUBLICATION SOCIETY In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 185,000 Copies in print as of 1961). III. Of The Fall of Man.
"We believe the Scriptures teach that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker; but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners not by constraint but choice; being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation, without defense or excuse."
I said earlier that we would consider some logical conclusions as well as look at some Scriptures showing further the fallacy of the doctrine of "original or inherited sin." Some seeing what I am about to reveal saw the consequences of their human doctrines and determined to create others in an attempt to "justify" the positions already taken. For example if all men are born sinners due to the sin of our parents or Adam and Eve, Mary would also be tainted with the same, so presto, the Roman Catholic doctrine of "the Immaculate Conception" making Mary, the mother of Jesus an exception. No Bible verse so teaches of course, only the Roman Catholic church. Then too, since Jesus was "made flesh and dwelt among us" being born of the Virgin Mary, Matthew 1:18-23 ;John 1:14, Jesus would have been born in sin since Christ was "made of woman" (Galatians 4:4). We have asked our denominational friends for years, from which source comes "original sin, the spirit or the flesh?" If they say through the spirit, since we are "the offspring of God," and He is the "Father of our spirits," then our spirits came from God depraved or black with sin. If they say, "Well, I suppose it is through the flesh," then again they would have Jesus born a sinner, for as noted, He was "made of woman" and He was "made flesh and dwelt among us" (Galatians 4:4; John 1:14). See the problems these folks have who follow those creeds?
So the doctrine of the "Immaculate Conception" was born out of an attempt to keep the "original sin doctrine" and exempt Mary from said sin as well as the Son born to her conceived by the Holy Spirit, the Son of God Almighty.
Many times I have asked my Protestant and Catholic friends to explain to me how Adam and Eve became sinners. Calvinism would say as already noted that it was in fact God's will for them to sin. Think of it! They did what God intended for them to do but forbid them from doing, and it upset God so much that He drove them from the beautiful Paradise garden and placed a curse on them and on the ground (Genesis 3:1-15). Paul referred back to this account and said that Eve was deceived by Satan. "But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness,..."(2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:11-15). The first pair of human beings used their "free moral agency" with which they were created in God's image to choose to disobey God and to obey Satan. I suggest that as the passages already cited teach, this is exactly how man becomes a sinner today. All eventually become such according to (Romans 3:23). The results of which bring about a lost condition (Romans 6:23).
"I Believe The Bible:" Consequently believing in the "Free moral agency" of mankind, and exercising our free will to transgress the will of God, we must come back to God on the terms He has given in the gospel whereby we may be "reconciled" unto God. Such terms as "reconciliation" and "redemption" and "Born Again," suggest that at one point all were in a right relationship with God, a relationship that due to our own sins needs to be "re-established." Paul admonished those to whom he preached to "...be ye reconciled unto God" (2 Corinthians 5:17-20). You will notice that he did not say that "God should be reconciled unto us!" We left God and we must come back to Him don't you see? If indeed we were born "at Satan," how do you suppose one could get any "atter than at?" If such a one went anywhere he would of necessity be going away from where he's "at." But scriptures speak of us as "going astray" not being "born astray" don't you see? (Psalm 58:3). And Peter writes in the following language: "For you were as sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer (Bishop) of your souls" (1 Peter 1:25). Notice the words "have now returned" that was said of these Christians. Every single creed from which we have quoted gave multiple passages of Scripture to which supposedly prove their "inherited sin" contention, but none teach any such thing! The Devil quoted Scripture to Jesus but He misused them (Matthew 4:1-11; Genesis 3:4).
We have noted some offshoots of the doctrine of "Original Sin" already, let us now consider others: If man can't think a good thought or do a good deed due to being "Hereditarily Totally Depraved" or "wholly inclined to evil," then one has no "free will" to determine to turn and do right until something external operates on him, removing said depravity and enabling him to believe. Think of this too! If this is how it works, then God who "isn't willing that any should be lost" and gave His only Begotten Son to that end, then unless the Holy Spirit operates on every heart enabling them to believe and obey, He becomes responsible for every unbeliever whom He must condemn to eternal torment or be a respecter of persons (John 3:16-17; 2 Timothy 2:1-4; 2 Peter 3:9; Acts 17:30-31; Hebrews 2:9). If you think I have gone too far in this matter, read the following and you will see that this is what those same human creeds which I have quoted teach concerning "conversion to Christ." It is so far as they are concerned a "better felt than told experience" worked upon them by the Holy Spirit enabling them to "repent, believe, and conform." I am not about to prove this contention from (Edward T. Hiscox's Standard Manual For Southern Baptist Churches pg. 63 VII). "We believe the Scriptures teach that in order to be saved, men must be regenerated, or born again; that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind; that it is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the Holy Spirit, ...and that its (the new birth ket) proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance, faith, and newness of life."(Emphasis, mine ket). My friend did you get that? Saved first by an outside working of the Holy Spirit on the heart of the sinner and then "repentance, faith, and newness of life!" If you didn't get it yet, let me point out to you that this claims salvation as a work of the Holy Spirit prior to man's belief, repentance, or obedience! See? This error causes folks to wait for some "feeling" or to "pray and agonize" asking God to do something to or for them rather than "obeying the gospel" as men are commanded to do or suffer the eternal consequences (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; Romans 16:15-16; 1 Peter 1:22-25; Romans 16:16-18; Hebrews 5:9; Matthew 7:13-28).
When Jesus gave the "Great Commission" to His apostles, He had no thought nor did they, that man could not hear, believe, and obey whatever said commission demanded of its recipients (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:45-49). Basically this commission says, "Go-teach-baptize-then teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..." The parable of the sower and the soils in (Luke 8:4-15; Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23) teaches conclusively the ability of man to hear, believe, obey, and bear fruit, and holds men accountable for the same. Next I desire that you take time to look up the cases of conversion I listed below and see how they carried out the worldwide commission in the first century. See what they taught-see what they believed-see what they were told they "must do" to be saved from alien sins and to become a member of Christ's blood bought church.
You would have to have professional help to misunderstand these cases of conversion and some kindred passages I now cite for your edification and hopefully if you are not a Christian, your salvation.
Jews on Pentecost-(Acts 2:22-38-41, 47).
The Samaritans-(Acts 8:12).
Simon a former Sorcerer-(Acts 8:13).
Ethiopian Treasurer-(Acts 8:26-39).
Saul a Pharisee-(Acts 9:1-6; 22:16).
Cornelius a Gentile-(Acts 11:11-18; 10:47-48).
Lydia, a seller of Purple-(Acts 16:14-15).
The Philippian Jailer-(Acts 16:22-34).
For more study see the following passages of Scripture (Romans 10:8-17; Romans 6:3-6; 16-18; Galatians 3:26-29; 1 Peter 3:20-22).
Membership in the blood bought body of Christ takes place by the same process known as conversion as one "obeys the gospel of Christ." Such folks are then "born again" of the water and of the Spirit (John 3:3-5; Titus 3:5) and as such are citizens of Christ's kingdom, members of His church (Acts 2:41, 47; Colossians 1:13-14). Such folks are "reconciled unto God in one body by the cross of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13-16). They take the family name "Christian" because they are then "married to Christ" in a spiritual sense (Romans 7:1-4; Ephesians 5:22-27; Acts 11:16; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16; 1 Corinthians 1:10-12; 3:1-6). The idea that folks are saved by one means and then "join the church" by yet another is unknown to the Bible. You may ask, "do others realize this?" My answer is an unqualified "yes" but in practice they deny it for they teach folks to "join the church of their choice." Proof that they know better may be found in the same creed book we have quoted from already. I quote again:
"(Hiscox Manual for Baptist Churches, page 22 Chapter IV). "It is most likely that in the Apostolic age when there was but "one Lord, one faith, and one baptism," and no differing denominations existed, the baptism of a convert by that very act constituted him a member of the church, and at once endowed him with all the rights and privileges of full membership. In that sense, "baptism was the door into the church." Now it is different; and while the churches (Baptist ket) are desirous of receiving members, they are wary and cautious that they do not receive unworthy persons. The churches (Baptist ket) therefore have candidates come before them, make their statement, give their "experience," (often an outlandish story of their supposed conversion by some better felt than told supernatural happening, ket) and then their reception is decided by a vote of the members. And while they cannot become members without baptism, (yet one cannot be a Baptist without baptism but they teach you may go to heaven without it-so we say if that be true, it is easier to get to heaven than into the Baptist church ket) yet it is the vote of the body (a local Southern Baptist church ket) which admits them into its fellowship on receiving baptism." (Emphasis and added notes mine, ket).
Mr. Hiscox makes a fatal admission. He admits that once upon a time when there was "one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, and no differing denominations existed...." then says "now it is different." Well why is it now different? Who made it different pray tell? Has the word of Christ undergone some changes since He prayed that "all be one based on the apostles' teachings (John 17:17-21)?
If the New Testament still reads as it did in the first century can the idea of "join the church of your choice" possibly be pleasing to Christ? Any honest Bible believing reader knows perfectly well the answer to my questions. Your Bible and mine still reads as it did when Mr. Hiscox alluded to (Ephesians 4:1-6). Here Paul, writing by divine guidance, stated the following in language too clear to be misunderstood by even the casual reader: "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
In the language of the young folks today, having read those passages they would ask, "now just what part of ONE is it that you don't understand?" There is as much choice of "faiths" as there is of "God's," "Lord's," and "baptisms!" There is as much choice of "bodies or churches" as there is of "hopes," there is only "ONE" of each don't you see? We have already seen that when people believe and obey the gospel of Christ they are "reconciled unto God in one body by the cross" (Ephesians 2:13-16; Acts 19:1-5). Remember Jesus prophesied that the Gentiles as well as the Jews would hear His voice and come and "there would be one flock (fold kjv) and one Shepherd" (John 10:16). This is still how your Bible and mine reads today. No changes are allowed! Those who make changes stand condemned or accursed before Christ for so doing (Galatians 1:6-11; 2 John 9-11; 2 Timothy 4:1-8; Colossians 3:17; John 12:48).
Another offshoot of the doctrine of "Hereditary Total Depravity," in addition to denying the need for people to "obey the gospel," is the idea that since it took a "direct operation" of the Holy Spirit to enable one to believe, that once this "experience of grace" which the Calvinist identify as "the new birth" has occurred, such a person then possesses "eternal security" meaning that there is "no probability or possibility" for them to ever lose their salvation and be finally and eternally lost. This doctrine is also called "once saved always saved," or say some, "one cannot fall from grace."
So you may see that I have not misrepresented this position held by many, let me reproduce it from their own Creed. After having done this, I shall give you one of the Protestant preacher's own interpretation of that doctrine as he makes the logical conclusions to which it leads.
(Hiscox Standard Manual for Baptist Churches page 67, XI "Perseverance of Saints). "We believe the Scriptures teach that such as are truly regenerate, being born of the Spirit, will not utterly fall away and perish, but will endure unto the end; that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors; that a special providence watches over their welfare; and that they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation."
One of their own, who is referred to as "Reverend Sam Morris," who was at one time the "Pastor of the First Baptist church in Stamford, Texas," wrote explaining the doctrine of "once saved always saved" in a tract titled, "Do a Christian's Sins Damn His Soul?" The following:
"We take the position that a Christian's sins do not damn his soul! The way a Christian lives, what he says, his character, his conduct, or his attitude toward other people have nothing whatsoever to do with the salvation of his soul....All the prayers a man may pray, all the Bibles he may read, all the churches he may belong to, all the services he may attend, all the sermons he may practice, all the debts he may pay, all the ordinances he may observe, all the laws he may keep, all the benevolent acts he may perform will not make his soul one whit safer; AND ALL THE SINS HE MAY COMMIT FROM IDOLATRY TO MURDER WILL NOT MAKE HIS SOUL IN ANY MORE DANGER...THE WAY A MAN LIVES HAS NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH THE SALVATION OF HIS SOUL."
Let me hasten to point out that many of the folks who are members of those churches who teach this ungodly doctrine are fine folks who do not put it into practice. We thank God for that, for if they did, you could understand why one of my brethren in debate with a Baptist preacher after listening to his defense of the doctrine of "eternal security" told the audience, "Folks, I know many of you do not believe nor practice this doctrine that Mr.________ is defending, and I am thankful for that! If you did begin to put into practice what he is defending the rest of us would have to lock up our wives and daughters." I have the debate on cassette tape and could produce the transcript and give the names of the two disputants in the debate that took place in Central Florida several years ago.
"Nothing to do to be saved." "Direct operation of the Holy Spirit in Conversion." "Eternal security." "Doctrine doesn't matter." "Church membership not essential to one's salvation," are all offshoots of the doctrine of "inherited depravity" or "born in sin." Indeed, it is an ungodly doctrine which makes the true Christian's task of attempting to convert such folks to Christ very difficult and sometimes almost impossible. Folks who mistake conviction for conversion will reform their lives and begin living a godly lifestyle, and when you attempt their conversion through believing and obeying the gospel as taught in the New Testament, they often use their reformed life as "proof" of their "conversion experience" and you are fighting against subjective rather than objective reasoning. Unfortunately, usually the subjective wins out in the end for they are happy as they are. Sadly it is to such folks that Jesus will be forced to say come the day of judgment, "I never knew you..." (Matthew 7:13-23).
That one once saved by the blood of Christ by gospel obedience may turn back to serving Satan and lose their eternal reward is taught in several of the parables of our Lord Himself. The parable of the "soils" the parable of the "tares," The parable of the "five wise and five foolish virgins," of (Matthew 25:1-13), just to name three of them teach this so plainly that one would need help to misunderstand what is being taught. Jesus didn't say to these five "foolish virgins" "I never knew you." No, He said "I know you not." Note also that they were all "virgins" indicating purity at one point in their lives. One out of four hearers believed, obeyed, and remained a faithful fruit bearer in the case of the "Sower and soils" already mentioned earlier from (Matthew 13 and Luke 8). The "tares" were seed sown by the Devil (or his ministers 2 Corinthians 11:15) destined to be "rooted up" come the judgment. Then the "five foolish" virgin's not being allowed to go into the wedding feast due to a failure to remain prepared, cannot be misunderstood. It refers to Christ's return and the reception of His bride, the church as taught in (Ephesians 5:22-27).
To some Christians at Galatia who were attempting to be "justified by keeping the law," Paul wrote, "you have fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:4). Not only does this show the possibility of falling from grace, it shows that some had already fallen. The apostle Peter also Holy Spirit guided used graphic language to show God's disgust for those who have "known the way of righteousness" then turned back into sin in the following language: "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire" (2 Peter 2:20-22). Who cannot understand the meaning of these figures of speech used by the Apostle to depict the child of God who has returned to serving Satan? If such an one dies in this condition where do you suppose that one will reside in eternity?
Then there is Simon a former Sorcerer who believed and was baptized (Acts 8:13), which Jesus says will save one (Mark 16:16), who later tried to purchase the power only possessed by the Apostles to impart spiritual gifts to their converts who was told that he was "in a gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity"(Acts 8:14-23). What did he have to do to be forgiven? He had to "repent and pray" (v-22). This is known as the "second law of pardon" for the erring child of God (See 1 John 1:9). I wonder? Do you suppose that one who is "in a gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity" is still standing in the grace of Christ? To ask is to answer.
Next I call to your attention the Israelites who missed the promised land due to a failure to persevere. Their rebellion and disobedience is paralleled to unbelief, and the Hebrew writer who understood that "the things written before hand" about God's dealing with His chosen people were "examples to teach us" not to make the same kind of mistakes they made lest we miss heaven (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11-12) wrote the following:
"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the day of provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was He grieved for forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest., but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief" (Hebrews 3:12-19).
The saved believer is always an obedient believer (Matthew 7:21-29; Revelation 14:13; 22:14; Hebrews 5:9).
We could delve into such subjects as "identifying the New Testament church; " "it's names," "organization," "its worship" and "its functions or work," but I shall leave that for another lesson. Yes, "I Believe The Bible," come judgment day it will be the standard that determines who has been saved by God's grace (Revelation 20:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11; Romans 2:6-11; Matthew 25:1-46).
Do you believe the Bible? If so, don't delay your obedience to the gospel so you may be forgiven all past sin and error and become a part of those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb or God, a member of His blood bought church. If you are a member who has returned to "wallowing in the mire" can't you see the need to repent, confess and pray so you may be saved by grace through faith? Let us assist you in whatever way you stand in need.
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